Children’s shoes have been the trial of mothers for generations, I’m sure. They grow out of them in no time, but good quality ones cost as much as adult shoes. Buy cheap ones and it is a gamble whether they will last until they are grown out of.
Faced with a barefoot Middle Daughter, who had grown out of all her shoes over the summer, with only three pairs of flip flops left to her name, the thought of equipping her with a winter wardrobe of good quality shoes was daunting.
I took the gamble. We went to Ackermans (the cheap and cheerful store, but still not the very cheapest) and bought her three pairs of shoes for the price of one good pair from Woolies. Trainers, pumps and a pair of pretty canvas shoes that were in the sale. That was the day that immediately on her return she gashed her arm and we had to turn straight around to get it sewn up at the doctor's in town. Perhaps that was an omen, a doom-laden peal foretelling the premature demise of the shoes, because five weeks later I was back at the store with my receipt and a pair of shoes that had perfect looking uppers (they might well still have been perfect-looking when excavated by archeologists in 200 years time, being about as biodegradable as the plastic chemicals they smelled of) but with deep cracks right across the soles. The trainers also had holes in the outer surface of the mock-leather upper that let the wet in, but my husband reckons he can use gaffa tape on that and I've twice stitched the strap back on the canvas shoes, so far, but I was only going to argue about the cracked soles of the mock leather pumps, which really were beyond remedy.
The cashier pointed at my till slip, which said a 30 days returns policy.
The supervisor came and offered an exchange.
I said I didn’t want to buy shoes from them any more, as they are such bad quality.
She said "What do you expect? They’re cheap shoes. "
I persisted and eventually she got sick of me and gave me my money back.
And so duly chastened after my misguided attempt at economy, I sneaked back into the camp of ‘quality shoes are a must for growing feet’. If there had been a Clarks shoes over here I’d have legged it there, kissed the carpet and swooned over the leather shoes with width fittings. Here though we have Woolworths and that is about it. (If I’m wrong and there is somewhere else that does decent leather children’s shoes that fit, please, please tell me)
So today I took my barefoot princess to shop in Woolies in Canal Walk and Youngest came too. Another downside in the small market of South Africa is that shops get in their season’s stock and then that is it for the season. If a size runs out, it runs out. Canny Cape Town mothers have the Woolworths new season stock arrival date penciled in to their diary, fit their kids out for the season and then smile sympathetically and slightly smugly at less organized, belated and harassed mothers with two girls in tow, trying to find anything in a 2 or a 12, when the shelves are stripped bare of those sizes and now clearly only equipped for kindergarten aged tots.
Frustrated, as there were some quite nice looking leather sandals up to size 11, I found some white flowery leather ones in a size 2 and Middle Daughter tried them. Not comfortable. We drifted across to the rows of dull ‘school’ shoes and she happily enough tried them on too. Still no good. In the end she took matters into her own hands, wandered round the shelves, even into the boys section and came back with these.
And they fitted, are comfortable and, even better, they look like riding boots, so she can wear them for riding. So in one quick step I went from stingy, economical Mum to extravagant, profligate Mum and got a pair for Youngest too. It is only a matter of time before her trainers wear out, by which time there will be nothing at all left in Woolies shoe department, and she has no leather winter shoes and now I’m firmly back on the ‘leather shoes so the feet can breathe’ bandwagon. After a childhood of Clarks sandals myself I can’t really inflict premature bunions or foot rot on my own girls after all!
Anyone know how to stop children’s feet growing? These shoes need to last till summer now!