Latest Spurts: The “boring” eclipse and burgeoning feet

August 25, 2017

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!

Almost like clockwork, the kids outgrow their shoes every six months or so. Last week I took Eleven and Nine for new running shoes that they can wear to P.E. We entered Payless and then slowed down. A sales associate approached us and asked whether we needed any help, so I told her I wanted to buy shoes for Eleven.

“Would you like me to measure her feet?” she asked.

I figured it didn’t hurt. The last time we bought shoes, Eleven wore a child’s size 5 or thereabouts. How much could her size have changed since then? The sales lady brought a child’s shoe sizer and asked Eleven to place her foot in it.

“Well, she doesn’t fit the kids’ sizes anymore,” the woman said. “Let me just go and get the women’s sizer.”

The girls and I looked at each other for the 30 seconds it took her to switch out the sizing tool. How big could Eleven’s feet be? The woman came back and asked Eleven to put her foot in the metal plate with hash marks on the side.

“Okay, I would put her at…an eight-and-a-half,” the woman said. “Let me show you where those are.”

I have to admit, her little announcement stunned me. How was it possible, I thought, that my eleven-year-old now wears a larger shoe size than me? Surely the woman must have made a mistake. We’d get to the rack of shoes marked “8.5” and discover that Eleven’s feet slid out of them.

We went to the women’s sizes and found the 8.5 shoes. I asked Eleven to pick out a pair she liked, and after some minor negotiation she pulled out a box. She took out one shoe and pushed her foot into it.

It fit perfectly.

“Put on the other one,” I said, not quite believing what I was seeing.

She put on the other shoe and walked up and down the aisle. I watched and listened as she oohed and aahed over the memory foam in the shoes. She wiggled her toes and had no problem doing so.

The sales associate came back and asked if we had found what we wanted. I was almost afraid to ask her to size Nine for shoes, but I did anyway and the woman brought the children’s sizing tool again. Fortunately Nine is still a size 3 in kids’ shoes, so I didn’t exactly go into complete shock.

But my older child. My…middle schooler. She’s wearing women’s shoes. What next?


Like so many other schools across the country, the kids’ school had activities planned for the eclipse on Monday. The school provided all the students with glasses to watch the event, and because we were in the path for about 94 percent coverage I think Nine was expecting a more dramatic outcome. Around here the daylight got somewhat dim, but we didn’t see nearly the approach to twilight that those in the path of totality saw.

After school I asked the kids what they thought about the eclipse. Nine made her discontent with the entire episode known pretty quick.

“It was boring,” she said right away. “Nothing happened.”

When we got home, she tossed her eclipse glasses on the countertop. I didn’t say anything about them. I wanted to give her a little bit of time to get over the “boring” events of the day. Even if she didn’t realize it, what she’d witnessed that day was a pretty big deal.

Later that evening, I suggested she take the glasses up to her room.

“But why? I’m not going to use them again. I just want to recycle them.”

“Don’t recycle them,” I said. “Just throw them into a drawer and use them for the next eclipse.”

“I don’t need them.”

We went back and forth on it, but she wouldn’t budge. The conversation ended in a stalemate with Nine scowling at me as she went up to her room for bed.

Yesterday I received an email from the school asking for any unwanted eclipse glasses. The school will turn them into Astronomers Without Borders so the organization can pass the glasses on to underprivileged kids for the next eclipse. I showed Nine the email, and she beamed. She even put Eleven’s eclipse glasses in her own backpack to drop them in the collection box this morning.

Even if the eclipse itself was boring for Nine, at least she gets to help someone because of it. And maybe, years from now, she’ll remember this event as a time when she got to view something special and perform a small act of charity through something that touches us all.


Eleven has always been my little fashionista. As she’s getting older, I’m still buying all her clothes for her but letting her decide how to mix and match various outfits. Earlier this week we talked through the logistics of her wearing a skirt or dress on a non-P.E. day.

The next morning she came down in one of her new favorite t-shirts that states, “I’d rather be reading.” The style of the shirt, with its round neckline and somewhat looser fitting, suggests a more casual look. Eleven paired it with a black skirt that has thin white horizontal stripes.

I glanced at her while making lunches for her and Nine.

“I don’t know if this goes together,” she said, sitting down for her breakfast.

“I think it looks okay,” I said, trying to stay neutral.

“You can tell me if you don’t like my outfit,” she said matter-of-factly, “it’s okay.”

“Well, it’s not that,” I said. “I just wouldn’t have thought about putting those two things together.”

Her eyebrows furrowed in thought. I looked at the clock.

“You still have time to change if you want,” I said.

She shook her head. “No, I’m okay.”

I nodded and put fruit and snacks in the lunchboxes. It’s true, I wouldn’t have paired the shirt and skirt with one another. As long as she’s modestly dressed and doesn’t come down the stairs looking completely outlandish, though, I’m comfortable letting Eleven make her own choices when it comes to her clothes. It’s only through a little bit of trial and error that she’ll find out what works for her and what doesn’t.

That’s part of what being a tween is all about, right? Finding one’s way in the world. Most of the time people think that applies to the big life questions, but I say it applies just as much to clothes and one’s sense of style too.