• Carmen Marie Fabio

In the long run

Shutterstock photo

Through gritted teeth, I bought another pair of running shoes last weekend for one of my boys, an acquisition that’s just a portion of a 17-year litany of running shoe purchases for my kids that I now wish I had documented in photographs.

Back in the days when I was a distance runner (I didn’t say long distance, just distance) I always bought men’s shoes as they seemed to fit my feet better and didn’t come in condescending shades of coral, mint, or sparkly periwinkle.

Runners typically replace their shoes every five months or so and, with a pragmatic and cheap heart, I stockpiled my old running shoes that were still perfectly wearable, for my boys to grow into. They, indeed, proceeded to grow into – and out of – them over the course of about a weekend, and have now moved into a subset of running shoes that are the size of a shoe/flipper hybrid.

There should be a taxation write-off category for boys and running shoes. I learned – early and in triplicate - when the boys were still toddlers the importance that running shoes would play in their lives and when a purchase failed to deliver what the hype had promised, I presented myself at the customer service counter, receipt in hand.

“Non,” said the Zellers employee, examining the pair of running shoes that had fallen apart after about six weeks of wear. “Ils sont trop maganés.”

“I know,” I told her, restating my interpretation of the term ‘Kidurable.’ “That’s why I’m returning them.”

Though I won that round, I lost myriad others over prematurely expiring accessories that extended beyond basic running shoe components from light-emitting diodes that flashed on impact with the ground to built-in wheels in shoe heels (Heelys) that were blamed for a number of falling related injuries.

While I don’t condone dangerous products, I think anything that promotes evolution merits a second glance.

Shoes that typically began the school season like the jeans, T-shirts, books, and pencil-cases, all shiny-new and functional, usually limped into November dirty and frayed with an appendage poking out. Something I typically only got to see if the boys brought their running shoes home over the Christmas holidays.

“Why didn’t you tell me your shoes were in such bad shape?” I’d ask only to get the inevitable blank stare and a shrug in return. “Dunno.”

People always had tons of maternity and toddler advice but no one ever warned me about the running shoe situation in raising boys.

There are, however, pluses to the passage of time that has rendered my kids bigger than me.

My shoes no longer fit them.

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