Wednesday, 23 February 2011
Almost a First
"Come on then, darling" boomed the woman with the unreasonably loud voice. "Are you going to give us a walk?"
She ran her hands over John's shiny new shoes and smiled a smile that somehow managed to seem loud.
"Come on!" she yelled, clapping her hands clamorously in his face, "Come here to me! Come on!"
John stood with his feet stuffed into strange, stiff shoes and his little face crumbled.
He clung helplessly to the seat as his feet refused to move, and then sunk miserably onto the floor as he realised the impossibility of his task.
He tried to crawl away to safety but his feet were trapped in strange, solid shoes and all he could do was drag his legs limply behind him as his pitiful cries turned into panic.
The ludicrously loud lady spent a good ten minutes trying to get him to walk. She jingled keys in his face, played him noisy cartoons on her mobile, and shouted then shouted some more.
But it was all to no avail, because even when John's cries did falter and stop he was utterly incapable of walking. He simply stood, gripping my knee tightly, and staring about him in confusion and fear, like a wild thing caged.
We didn't buy John his first pair of shoes that day. Instead, we pulled them from his feet and set him down in his socks. We saw relief flood his face as his toes curled against the carpet and then we watched as he toddled out of that shoe shop at what almost seemed like a run.