Baby Blue ShoesBy Emma Pearson
September 22, 2023
8th October 2019
Megan Devine Writing Prompt inviting us to pick an “ordinary” item and begin writing, “I remember”.
I remember your first pair of shoes. Real shoes for walking. Tried on in a proper shoe shop. Designed to support your baby feet while you learned to walk on two legs not four, and to teach you good walking habits.
Closed sandals. Soft brushed leather. Appropriate for a young child/big baby who would be delighting in walking throughout the summer. Pretty mid-blue with a leaf pattern on them. Grown-up baby shoes.
You were barely over 12 months old at the time, and still pre-verbal. The years of complaining about having your sister’s – or worse your brother’s – hand-me-downs were some way in the future.
As a third child myself – though of five – I was well aware of the importance of buying you “new” stuff. I was conscious of this before you were even born. Not for everything, but definitely for the important items. Like shoes. And later, bras and knickers. And even for some unimportant items. I had had hand-me-downs from two brothers ahead of me, and I was particularly sensitive to how horrific this was. I actually liked to get my older girl cousin’s hand-me-downs because at least they were sort of girl-ish.
As an aside – Megan claims that I didn’t even buy girl clothes until I had you, Julia, when I concluded that, with two girls coming after Ben, I might as well start buying girl clothes for her, so that they would get two uses out of them. But I think that’s total bollocks. I definitely bought Megan girl clothes. Sadly Mike is not around to verify or quash the story. But even I wouldn’t put it past me that there be a grain of truth in it. But Megan definitely had some girl clothes, not just Ben’s hand-me-downs. And you, Julia, had lots and lots of new baby clothes. As well as a lot of hand-me-downs.
But the beautiful blue first pair of shoes for walking were yours and yours alone.
When you outgrew your first pair of shoes, (any of you) I put them in your precious “Treasure Box”. They were not going to be used by anyone else. Into the box they went. Our kids’ first pair of proper shoes were only going to have a single owner. Oh yes indeed.
Your Treasure box contains birth/welcome cards, letters, your birth announcement, some writing I did about your birth, then a whole host of birthday and Christmas cards dad and I wrote for you. Me writing on one side of the inside, and him writing on the other. The year he died, dad managed to write your birthday card, Julia. But for Ben and Megan he had to dictate them in advance and aunty Helen wrote them. And they received them after he had died. But you got yours. Your 13th birthday. Just a week before he died.
Funny that, in your room now, left as it was the night you left it, your Treasure box was open and your baby blue shoes were sat by the side of it. Little baby shoes. I do believe you loved them, and looking at them brought some softness and sweet memories of easier times.
I hope so.