Chart Number 183

September 4, 2015

By Ekta R. Garg

Last week I did something I’ve never really done before. I took my daughter shoe shopping…to buy shoes for me. And I found out in the process just how mature she’s gotten recently.

This week the girls started Irish dancing lessons, and they needed black ballet slippers (as to how we came to the idea of Irish dancing…that’s another Chart on another day :>.) Because it’s been a while since Nine and Seven have worn ballet slippers and because Nine had last Friday off from school, I decided to take her to Payless for ballet shoes. I figured I would just bluff Seven’s shoes—that is, guess a size, buy a pair, and have her try them at home. But since I had access to the feet of one child, I thought I might as well get the right size for her.

I had another motive for taking Nine to Payless. I needed two new pairs of shoes too. So I figured I’d knock out shoes for two in one trip.

We got to the store and went to the kids’ section and the shelves that displayed dance shoes. After spending a few minutes trying on one or two pairs, we finally settled on a pair size four-and-a-half (and I did a double take. Since when has my child started wearing shoes this big? I wear a size seven-and-a-half, for crying out loud!)

After dropping her new pair of ballet shoes into its box, I went around the tall aisles to the women’s section and started browsing.

“What are you doing?” Nine asked curiously.

“I need to buy some new shoes too,” I explained.

She brightened at the prospect of offering me advice on shoes and searched through the pairs lining the shelves in long rows. I pulled a pair of ballet flats, unfolded them a little, and put them on. The minute I did so, however, I had to shake my head.

“Those are cute,” she said, angling her head one way and then the other as she examined my feet.

She didn’t sound like a nine-year-old. She sounded…well, like a young woman. I blinked once or twice and then decided to answer her unasked question like a woman.

“I don’t like the shape of the toes,” I said, eyeing the rounded fronts of the shoes. I put the flats away, pulled another box off the shelf, and tried on the second pair.

“These are kind of nice,” I said.

“No offense, but those look manly,” Nine said in a neutral tone.

I wondered for a moment just how seriously I should take the opinion of someone who hasn’t even hit double digits in age yet, but then I took another look at the shoes and started to feel just the tiniest hint of doubt.

“Maybe I’ll try something else on,” I said, not sure how to process the thoughts she’d shared.

I pulled out another pair, and Nine shook her head. She didn’t like that pair, and I gave up on closed-toed shoes for the moment. Moving about three feet to the left, I pulled out a pair of sandals with gold accents and beige straps. I put them on and felt like the summer sun had just risen on my feet.

I started to smile and showed the sandals to Nine, and she shook her head again.

“That’s too bright,” she said. I spotted another pair exactly the same shape except with silver accents and white straps.

“They’re in silver too?” she said, incredulous. Clearly this child knew what she liked and didn’t like.

Two boxes over I found a black pair of sandals with a fun design that covered a major portion of the top of my foot. Right away Nine grinned.

“Those are really cute!” she said. “I like them.”

The finality in her voice convinced me, and I realized I really liked them too. I saw the same pair in beige and tried those on, but Nine assured me the black ones looked much better. I slid the box and its lid off the shelf, put the sandals inside, and dropped the box next to the ballet slippers we’d selected.

I turned to the close-toed shoes again and spied a plain black pair that reminded me a little bit of Keds.

“Those look good,” Nine said, urging me to try them on.

Even though I was a little skeptical—these ones looked kind of boyish to me—I took her advice and tried them on. And then I spent a few minutes looking at my feet. I realized that Nine was right. The shoes did look good.

“Are you sure?” I asked, wanting that little boost of confirmation every woman needs when she’s trying to decide on a pair of shoes.

“Yup,” she said. “Those look good.”

I thought about it for another minute and then agreed with her. I scooped up the shoes, the sandals, and Nine’s ballet slippers and walked with her to the register. We paid for the shoes and left.

In the time we spent in Payless, I got a small glimpse of the future. Nine had offered me cogent, thoughtful opinions and expected me to listen to what she had to say. As we stood there in the aisles between the shelves of shoes, something shifted between Nine and me. We weren’t mother and daughter. At least, we weren’t just mother and daughter. We were partners in shopping crime. And I had thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

It was fun and a little eye opening and, yes, even a little sad. My older child is really growing up. But I’m excited about future shopping trips, and knowing I now have someone to offer me an opinion makes me wonder just what we should shop for next.