A few weeks ago TGeek and I rented an Iranian indie film—Children of Heaven.  A young boy takes his sister’s only pair of
shoes to be repaired by the village cobbler. 
On the way home, he loses them.

They are afraid to tell their parents.  Father is months behind on the rent and
cannot afford new shoes.  So the two
children share the boy’s shoes.  The girl
wears them to her school in the morning. 
She then runs to a meeting place where she gives the battered sneakers
to her brother, who races to his afternoon classes.

All that running makes the boy fast.  He enters a footrace—the prize for third place
is a new pair of sneakers.  It is much
harder to come in third place on purpose than it is to win.  I won’t tell you if he manages it or
not.  I will tell you that this sweet
film is a must see.  Just ignore the
Amazon reviewers who whine that the movie lacks an American-style lightning
pace, heart-pounding climax, and finale in which all strings are neatly tied in
a bow.

A few weeks later I read Blue
Shoes and Happiness
, an installment of Alexander McCall’s marvelous
series–#1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  Set in Botswana, these books are worth
reading for the lyrical language alone. 

Mma Ramotswe, the owner of the agency, solves mysteries
large and small for the townspeople.  Her
assistant, Mma Makutsi, has an unexpected weakness for fancy shoes.  While these characters are middle-class in
their world, fancy shoes are not a purchase to be made lightly.  One must save up and choose wisely. 

Even though she has a beautiful pair of green shoes with
sky-blue linings, Mma Makutsi can’t stop herself from buying another pair
(blue) that calls to her from the store window. 
These shoes stand in opposition to other matters in life.  Shoes are an easy though costly means of
getting happiness.  And ultimately

In my house shoes are a nuisance.  The children shed them all over the place,
and then can’t find them when it is time to go somewhere. 

A family I know keeps a box by the front door containing all
the children’s shoes in the house, including the shoes of visiting
children.  When kids come in, their shoes
go in the box.  When they leave, they
take a pair of shoes out of the box and put them on. 

I think this is brilliant and would follow suit but I’m just
not organized enough to enforce it.  I
would end up walking through the house, picking up children’s shoes and putting
them in the box, which is not any easier than picking up children’s shoes and
putting them in their rooms, and there would still be one shoe under the bed or
behind the couch, and the children would sit on the floor in front of the box
and complain that they can’t find their other sandal or their left boot.

So we are rich spoiled Americans with too many shoes and
lightning paces and neatly tied in a bow (much like shoelaces) endings.  But I’m glad my kids don’t have to share a
single pair of sneakers, and that I can buy the fancy blue shoes in the store
window if I really want them.  But I


14 thoughts on “

  1. Come to think of it, almost everyone I know either ties their laces so the shoes slide on and off without tying (like me), or they wear shoes that don’t tie.  Shoes off seems so natural here, but when I was growing up in Milwaukee I was just like your kids – shoes everywhere.  Weird.

  2. When we flooded I lost all my shoes. I never thought about shoes that much before then. I had about 40 pairs of shoes, or maybe more. I never threw any away. Then suddenly, we flooded, and I lost them all. It was weird, suddenly, to have no shoes. Now I find I resent spending money on them, so I never buy the fancy blue shoes in the window. Instead I buy shoes at Target.

  3. I was just thinking yesterday how my children have so many pairs of shoes.  I remember growing up with two pairs:  one for school and play, one for church.  My kids each have a pair of sneaks, a pair of summer sandals, at least one for church, and many more.  Seems like half of Mayhem’s outfits come with shoes, they get handed down from older cousins, daddy finds them on great bargains…the shoes are taking over the closet!  I think they are holding Chaos’ only belt for ransom…

  4. Beautiful post.
    As an Arizonan, I’d have to say that shoes are icky and hot and smelly, and flip-flops are the closest we come to being able to run wild and barefoot as we desert rats secretly desire. Which really doesn’t explain why I have a closet full of shoes or why I must pick up (as you said) the shoes of both children and adults from their odd depositories all over the house to be thrown in their massively over-packed closets.

  5. Amazon reviewers are often idiots. The Iranian movie sounds great.Actually, there’s a great scene in the TV shoe Malcolm in the Middle where the mom is bitching about shoes being left all over the house. She’s busily tossing them into a box and saying, “From now on, ALL shoes go into the box, and you’re going to have to sign them in and sign them out!”That so tickled me, as we have shoe issues too. I wonder if your friends with the box were inspired by that scene. Sometimes I think seriously of making my kids sign their shoes in and out.

  6. I understand the shoe frustration… I have to force myself to get an over-the-door shoe hanger and I still have a hard time remembering to put my shoes in it… oh well, at least my shoes aren’t sitting over my clean clothes in the closet anymore

  7. Overall, reviews on both are good and sales are doing well–I’m intrigued by the “Children of Heaven”–sounds like a classic tale.

  8. great movie suggestion!!! i’ll look for it! i remember the whole shoe insanity when the kid was little, but if i was raising him now, i’d do like my japanese friends do- shoes off at the door… they don’t make a big deal about it. they have a mat near the door and the shoes are kicked off as you enter. altho, even as an adult, i have my shoes there- don’t ask… it’s just one of those jerjonji things! 🙂

  9. Luckily Eowyn only has 2 pair of shoes that she ever really wears right now and one pair is this miraculous pair that no matter how lost you think one is, it ALWAYS shows back up again. Truly amazing!!!Catch up comment: My biggest complaint in high school was that the drama teacher hated my mom (who did drama at another school) and thus, VERY unfairly, never ever ever cast me in ANYTHING even though I was a thespian and went to all the workcalls like I was supposed to, etc. I’d love the me that is now to be able to go back and time and confront this small, petty woman, but as far as I know that’s impossible. Fussy baby, must go.

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