Give ‘Im A Boot

I would rather my son step on my toes than walk in my shoes. His feet are almost the same size as mine now, and he’s taken an interest in my cowboy boots.

A few years ago, I loaned him a pair of old grey ropers I’d had since high school, thinking he could wear them later, and I’d get them back when he outgrew them. He thought they fit just fine and didn’t care that they were sloppy big on him, so he started wearing them anyway. Within a year, they were thrashed so badly that they were thrown out. I got after him about taking care of boots and pointed out that I managed to get 17 years out of that pair and he finished them off in one.

I have had a hard time believing he’s just plain hard on boots, but he’s put every boot brand to the test from the time he learned to walk. He wears his boots all the time and we battle about keeping them looking decent for church and school programs. If he gets a pair of hand-me-downs, I make him keep them nice looking and clean for dress occasions, but he wants to wear his rough-looking old standbys because they’re more comfortable.

This summer, we tried to make his favorite Tony Llamas hold up until school started. The soles and heels had come apart, so my husband sorted through the boot pile on the porch to find our son a replacement pair. When my husband held up my black and brown chore boots, he grinned and said, “How ‘bout this pair?” upon which I had a come-apart, yanked them out of his hands, and replied, “Absolutely not!”  He pestered me about the usage and intentions of my own boots, hoping to avoid buying new ones for our son. He gave up trying to talk me out of my boots and got out the gorilla glue to repair the Tony Llamas. After filing the dried glue “slag” and rubbing them in a little dirt, they were made useful again.

Our daughter’s rarely gotten any of her brother’s hand-me-down boots because the boots he wears don’t hold up long enough to get passed down. We’ve managed to boot them both with a lot of hand-me-down and yard sale boots but have also bought some. It’s hard to want to shell out a lot of money for new boots, knowing that kids will outgrow them, so I buy the biggest size possible without our kids looking like they have clown feet. I think of boots as an investment, and have given them as birthday or Christmas presents so our kids will regard boots as special.

When a friend offered me a pair of Ariat boots, I intended on giving them to my son when his feet grew into them, but he spotted them and begged to start wearing them because they were new, brown, and boys’ boots. I buckled because he needed dress boots badly but refused to loan him my black and brown chore boots because they’d never be the same if he wore them. I don’t want him walking in my shoes and will put my foot down with them on if I have to.

This column was originally published September 7-13, 2008

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