Friday, 27 January 2012

Shoes are a girl's best friend

A bit of catching up to do, so here goes.

Day five in the DD house and we're off to the shops. Last bits of uniform to get and school shoes. That means measuring feet since even a scatter graph wouldn't help find a reliable size from the range of footwear currently favoured by the DDs. So a 'proper' shoe shop is required.
Much excitement in the car on the way: it's Mummy's favourite shop. The girls show some interest too.
After the "see how far we can get Mummy to follow us round the sports store while Daddy's at the till and trying to leave" game, we're trying a new strategy. The plan is clear. We are here to buy school shoes and school shoes only. No deviation from this path is permissible. We are to go directly to the children's shoe department, have feet measured, try on shoes that fit, purchase those shoes and leave by the shortest route.
Discussion as we approach the car park revolves around what good behaviour in a shop looks like and how important it is to stay within arms length of Mummy or Daddy so as not to get lost.
Two different responses ensue: DD2 participates wholeheartedly and promises faithfully not to put a foot out of line. DD1 claims sulkily that she knows all this and doesn't need reminding, as though she'd never dream of straying. The naivety of accepting either stance as assurance of good behaviour just shows how little we yet know and how far we have yet to travel.
Initial indications are good. We negotiate the car park at least with a Daughter in the hand of each parent and even get through the front door without too much grief. It is at the escalator however that my naivety begins to dawn on me. With a shout of "I love these" DD2 launches herself from my side and, narrowly avoiding a well-dressed fellow passenger on the platform, jumps two-footed onto the third step. It is fortunate that there is half an escalator between her and the next passenger, as her racing gait bears her upwards at twice the speed of those around (please bear in mind, dear reader, that the height of the step is the height of DD2's knee, making her rate of progress all the more remarkable). With a triumphant leap, she contorts the last part of her progress into a twisting turn and lands two-footed on the upper platform facing back down with an exaggerated point and pout towards we mere mortals who follow. At least she is showing some signs of athletic ability.
As I approach, I glance round to see a smug look on DD1s face. And on Mummy's.
Restraining myself as best I can, a raised eyebrow as I reach the top step receives lowered gaze and "sorry Daddy" in response. 'Excellent', I indulge inwardly, 'We're getting somewhere', as naivety winks its twinkling eye once more.
DD2 and I turn to the right at the top of the escalator to be hailed and reversed by Mummy's call. "This way", proceeding left and making straight to ladies' shoes. A well worn path I think.
And how the best made plan may founder upon the simplest slip of intelligence or whim of fate.
"Sorry, we've just rearranged everything".
"Yes, over there", indicating the diametrically opposing corner of the sales floor.
When shop fitters and display designers consider their responsibilities, do they include the creation of camouflaged pathways through cocktail dresses? Of rat-runs through haberdashery? Or short-cuts through smalls?
If a glimpse of distant bobbing head is enough to feel secure about your charge's location and current activity, I commend you. I have not yet reached that aloof state. I did my best to walk calmly parallel to her zig-zag flight. I happily spoke reassuringly to the rack of little black dresses that jiggled in reply but refused to hold my hand or join the rest of us in choosing shoes. The attempts at understanding looks from the assistants were admirable, but could not disguise their disquiet as DD2 started bawling that it was not her fault, she had wanted to go this way and she didn't want any school shoes anyway.
Does everyone resort to bribery at some point? They needed trainers for outdoor PE anyway, after all. Those wellies were very pretty, and the old ones did have a hole in, didn't they? And well, we couldn't buy for one and not the other, could we?

I have an uneasy feeling I'll look back at this one day and see the roots of a very twisted tree, thick with shoe-blossoms and hand-bag petals. At least for now we got them to school with the right shoes on their feet.

Ah yes, school. Now there's another story...

Friday, 20 January 2012

Delaying Tactics

Day two in the DD house and Daddy is sitting on the stairs listening to his two Darling Daughters rearranging the furniture in their bedroom when they should be asleep. He's decided that even patient, calm intervention is to be avoided at this point as it evokes alternately 1) repeated demands for drinks of water (delaying tactic 1) or insistence on a trip to the toilet (delaying tactic 2 and, it's hard to avoid supposing, a direct consequence of delaying tactic 1).
Instead he is relying on the ancient knowledge and waiting for the equilibrium to right itself with the deepest sleep ever seen.

Tune in next time to find out about the trip to the shoe shop...