My 16-month-old girl loves shoes. She seems to love them indiscriminately – from giant mud caked farm boots, to rubber boots six sizes too big to her new butterfly sandals. She wants to wear them all. I think there is something universal about children wanting to try on all the shoes in the house and maybe that’s where expression that someone having some pretty big shoes to fill comes from.
This morning, she brought me her little pink sneakers. I put them on and she was satisfied for about two seconds. Then she toddled off and brought back her butterfly sandals. But when I tried to take off one of her sneakers to put on the sandals she was clearly annoyed. She does this little “eh, eh” noise to let the world know when she is not happy. I think it is sort of a pre-eye roll that says, “No Mom, you don’t get it!” She is at that difficult age where she only has a handful of words but she obviously has a lot she wants to say.
She wants her sandal on her OTHER foot and she is running head first into the natural limit that she only has two feet. This is hard for her (“eh, eh, eh!”). I am taking my time with this one, not enjoying it exactly but feeling privileged to witness the event. I count her feet and tell her that there are two. But she seems to think I am making a poor excuse for not putting on all the shoes. We take shoes on and off and on and off until she seems somewhat satisfied or at least ready to move on for now.
These are the types of mini-milestones that I love to watch. I know in different ways, hitting natural limits is a lifelong struggle. Haven’t we all occasionally wanted to be in two places at once or choose all of the above when you have to choose A, B or C. On the farm, natural limits abound. One field cannot be irrigated and relies on rain; another is so sandy that only certain herbs grow there. These limits can be frustrating but they also save us from having too many options and impossible choices.
It brings to mind the old Yiddish expression that “you can’t dance at two weddings with one tuchus“. And in time, she will learn this lesson in many different ways. In the mean time, we are spending a lot of time changing shoes.