I guess that is because for years, almost two decades now, I have taken small feet, and then larger feet, in worn out flip-flops curled up at the ends or tattered sneakers with toes poking through holes, off to the store to buy school shoes in early September. The new shoes had to be comfortable and sturdy, with velcro and later real laces ready to take those feet back and forth to school, to run around at recess playtime, ready for rainy days and the busyness of school life.
The kids would try on shoes as if that were a sport itself, jumping up and down in them, walking on their heels and, my favourite, sprinting back and forth in the store “to see if they are fast.”
Once children are older and reach the teenage years, shoe-shopping is not so much reserved for “back to school” in September … because you just went in June, and then again back in February. This is one time that shoes don’t really wear out: they never get the chance. Having adult size 12s lying about is like having a few sets of trick skiis stacked by your front door. Even then your child with those big feet might make eye contact with you while putting them on one morning and say “You are really going to hate hearing this but…” And off to the shoe store again.
At this age, “new shoes” can involve all or some combination of school shoes, PE runners, basketball shoes, soccer cleats, kick-abouts, maybe even slippers. Forget about winter boots or dress shoes: those will have to wait for the growing to stop or be borrowed when needed.
For adults, new shoes purchased in September often hold a certain fresh promise too. New runners speak of a refreshed beginning to a regular workout fitness plan or to a beloved sport. Sometimes new shoes are purpose-specific: hiking boots in preparation for a long-awaited hiking trip, court shoes for taking up squash or walking shoes for travelling abroad. And nothing jazzes up the look of any outfit like new shoes, the “dress for success” piece that sparks up a work wardrobe.
September feels like new beginnings, for students of all ages starting a new year and for adults moving past the lazier days of summer back to the structures of work and routine. In some ways new shoes purchased in the fall represent a sampler of things to come over the next months or year: days in a child’s life, outings for an adult’s fitness or recreation, work days that hold many plans.
Maybe you don’t need new shoes this September. But if you do, have fun choosing your “sampler” of things to come. Happy autumn.
Sue Dvorak is a physiotherapist, mother of 6 children and lives in Dunbar with her husband Marcel. She has been a regular writer for Dunbar Life magazine since 2011.