My daughter is a very special girl. And by "special" I mean "stubborn" and "expensive" and "opinionated."
M. Peevie has always known exactly what she wanted, from the time she was a tiny baby. She refused to take a bottle, no matter what was in it. No brand of formula, not even breast milk. Not even breast milk spiked with coconut rum. She would sob and cry until her eyes looked like she was having an anaphylactic reaction. I was chained to her nursing schedule until she was four months old and learned to drink from a cup.
So now she's nine, almost ten. She is the whole package--beautiful, smart, talented. But she has one debilitating flaw (besides the stubbornness): she has the widest feet known to mankind. Girl-kind. Whatever. This presents problems with regard to her sense of high fashion. She loves grown-up shoes--no Mary Janes for this fashionista.
But forget about Payless, forget about Famous Footwear, forget about the department stores. Only a real shoe store will work for the Divine Miss M. Waxberg's Walk Shoppe, to be precise. Their motto is "If we can't fit you, nobody can." I started to feel hopeful the minute we walked through the door.
The saleslady, Trudy, measured M. Peevie's right foot at 7.5E and her left foot at 7EE. She brought us a few pairs of mom-approved styles, and when M. tried on the first pair, a beautiful pewter-colored Mary Jane, we asked her how they felt.
"Better than any other shoes I have ever worn!" she said appreciatively. I was ready to buy the MJ's and leave, but M.P. had her eye on some other, more fabulous styles. Like Finn Comforts ($264) and Kumfs ($179) and Helle Comfort ($203). Mr. Peevie and I had our eye on brands that delivered slightly less hurt to the wallet, and after about six hours of shoe-trying-on, M. Peevie narrowed her choices down to an adorable red sweater-top slip-on, and a hideously plain pair of brown Birkenstocks.
Guess which pair she picked?
So we ended up paying $130 for a swath of suede stitched to a bumpy slab of cork. Crazy. (I don't pay half that much for my own shoes. I typically wear a pair of five-year-old Land's End all-weather mocs that cost about $25.)
And then it turns out that the girl is not even allowed to wear the Birks to school because they have no back. They're not safe enough. I ask the principal for an exception for our hard-to-fit daughter, and she respectfully declines, after watching M. Peevie walk around in the room-to-grow shoes. I don't really blame her, but now I have to face M. Peevie with the news.
She cries and cries. "What about those cute red ones you liked?" I remind her.
"I hate them!" she declares, determined to be miserable; so I tell her we will go back to Waxberg's and try on every pair of shoes in the store until we find a pair that's a) under $150 and b) acceptable to her school and c) acceptable to M. Peevie's finicky sense of fashion. We put the Birks back in the box to be returned to the store.
A few days later, M. Peevie is dressed for church, and as she's tying the laces on her sneakers, she says, "I sure wish I had those Birkenstocks to wear with this outfit." I looked at Mr. Peevie, and he looked at me and shook his head.
"Please!" I mouthed, and he reluctantly agreed.
"M.," I said, "Daddy and I have a birthday present for you, and we're thinking of giving it to you a couple of weeks early." Her face lighted up. "Do you know what it is? Do you want your present early?"
"Yes!" she said happily, "and I think it might be those special shoes!" It was. I handed the box to her, and she put the shoes on, and ran over and bear-hugged me until I was concave. "Thank you, Mommy and Daddy, thank you!" she said, over and over.
So now M. Peevie has an expensive pair of shoes that she cannot wear to school. And we're still facing another trip to the shoe store to fit those double-wides.