· Fatherhood

Two little shoes.

Two tiny shoes, not bigger than the palm of my hand.

My daughter’s shoes.

A few months ago, she had no use for them.

At first, she hated those shoes. She protested every time we tried to put them on her little feet.

Now, she runs to the closet minutes after she wakes up in the morning and exclaims, “shoo!”.

Every time I look at those shoes, I’m reminded of how new all this is for her.

These pink and blue sneakers that look like unicorns are the only shoes she has ever known.

They have a little noisemaker in the heel and every time she steps, they squeak like a dog toy!

When we are at the library or walking around a store, the sound of her squeaking shoes will draw a crowd of adoring strangers who fawn over her and her shoes. I can’t tell you how many grimacing faces I’ve seen melt into adoring smiles because of those shoes.

Without any effort at all, she brings so much joy to the world.

When I look at a pair of shoes, my mind recalls the hundreds of shoes I’ve seen in my life.

The pricey pair of basketball shoes that I begged my mom to buy me that had black and white zebra stripes along the side, the suede Airwalks that got ruined on the first day of school from playing football during recess, and the peanut brown wing-tips that carried me to the altar on the day I got married. All these memories influence the way I see shoes today.

My mind fills in the gaps about what shoes look like, what purpose they serve, how they feel on my feet, and how I feel about them on my feet. At this point, there isn’t much new about shoes. I’ve stopped paying attention to them. In some ways, I don’t even look at them anymore. They are there on my feet, but I don’t take the time to appreciate them and what they do for me.

But not for her.

For her, shoes are a wonder!

They’re amazing! They are baffling and beautiful.

For her, shoes are nothing short of a miracle.

Somehow her shoes fit snug yet comfortably, just around her feet.

She can put her feet in and take them out, and magically, neither the shoes nor her feet change their shape or size! When she walks, the shoes do not fall off or wear away. They protect her feet from sharp and scratchy things on the ground and inside, her feet stay warm and cozy.

It is almost as if the shoes become a part of her feet while she’s wearing them, and then, when she takes them off, they rest and become still. Just like her beloved stuffed bunny Aga, or her Fiat Hot Wheels car, these objects seem to come alive when she touches them.

Sometimes I wonder if she thinks that she actually has the power to bring objects to life.

How wonderful, strange, and terrifying it must be to look at the world and realize that you can change what happens out there. She can swipe a marker across paper and see a bold and colorful line that wasn’t there just a second earlier. She can breathe into the frigid Minnesota winter air and delight in the vaporous swirling cloud that springs from her lips and then vanishes into nothing. She can put on a pair of shoes and step into the world.

I imagine that she feels the same way a superhero does when they first discover their powers.

I can’t help but wonder if I’ve ever looked at my shoes the way she looks at hers.

Maybe I did when I was her age.

Or, maybe this is my first time, just like her.

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