A month ago we went out to get Darcie her first pair of shoes, she’d just began walking and I’d seen the most perfect pair of pink bunny shoes on the Clarks website and was thrilled when they had them in our local branch.
At first she hated them. She’s always been a barefoot baby. Partly because I couldn’t see the point in shoes and socks until she was walking and she didn’t want to wear them anyway so it made life easier to not even try.
Gradually I convinced her that shoes were fun. Putting on shoes meant we were going on an adventure. These days she will even try to put them on herself and I know that means she wants to go outside. She loves being outdoors and would happily live in a tent at the bottom of the garden of I’d let her.
There’s something very special about that first pair of shoes. I can be sentimental about the most ridiculous things so there was no doubt that I’ll be keeping these shoes to get out and show her when she is older. I had visions of us getting out these beautiful shoes and showing her how dainty and sweet they were.
What I didn’t count on was the dirt. The mud, the sand, the water. These shoes are not going to be a perfect pretty pair of baby shoes to hold onto. But I will hold onto them. Because they will remind me of the adventures she had in them. Her very first adventures.
Her first visit to the farm when she confidently walked around outside for the first time, where she brushed the goat and shouted ‘duck’ at everything she saw.
Her first proper trip to the beach. When Daddy tried to share his chips with her and she ended up with seagulls advancing on her from all angles. She loved playing in the sand but the sea was too cold so we had to make a hasty retreat to rescue those chilly toes.
Our first trips out without the pram, to go on ‘adventure walks’. Taking a Tupperware pot for her to pick up stones and leaves to carry and take home. Except she couldn’t hold the pot the right way up so ended up clutching a leaf in one hand and the pot in the other.
The countless hours we spend in the garden. When she will happily carry rocks around for ages, transferring them between her sandpit, swing and sand and water table. And every time she hands me a rock it’s as if she’s passing me the most precious thing in the world to her. Somehow the shoes (and her feet) have so far escaped having a rock dropped on them.
Every water mark and scuff holds a memory, each discolouration on the leather tells a story. About these days that she won’t remember but that are the best times of her life so far.
The shoes tell a story of an explorer who has endless energy and enthusiasm, who stops to look at every flower and to admire every stone, who loves being outdoors and messy in nature.
They might not be pristine, but neither is my daughter. She’s a nature loving, scruffy haired wild child and I’m glad that the shoes tell this story instead.