I was so excited (and disbelieving) when I found out at 24 weeks that I was expecting a baby girl. I love my son to bits, but after five years of trains, tractors and mud, I couldn’t wait to have a house full of pink. I was a very girlie girl myself, growing up. Okay, I did go through a (long) Goth phase in my teens, but up to that point, I was all about dolls, ballet and pretty things. I was still playing with my Barbies when I started secondary school, for goodness sake.
I was so looking forward to indulging my love of all things girlie with my daughter, but what I didn’t consider was that she’d be a proper little tomboy. Whether it’s the big brother influence or just in her nature, who knows, but it’s blindingly obvious that she’s much happier playing with cars, balls and Lego than dolls.
She does, however, have one concession to girliness – and that’s shoes.
I vaguely remember The Boy going through a phase where he was obsessed with shoes, but that was with chewing them, not wearing them. The Baby, in contrast, just loves shoes. Her favourite pastime is sitting beside the shoe rack, trying on a selection of footwear belonging to other members of the family. If she’s barefoot, she’ll often go and find a pair of her own shoes and try to put them on. She even tries to put the laundry liquid dispenser pots on her feet.
Unsurprisingly, then, this morning’s trip to get The Baby’s feet measured was a big success. It probably ranks up there as one of the best experiences of her 16-month life so far. When she was first fitted with shoes, two months ago, she measured up as a dinky size two, and so it was cruisers or nothing. But now that she’s walking confidently (including backwards), I wanted to get her some proper walkers.
We’d already been to Boots for eye drops for The Boy, John Lewis to browse the sale, and Primark to pick up some vests and socks before we hit the shoe shop, and The Baby was beginning to get grumpy. But as we entered Shoe Mecca, her face lit up. ‘Shooooooe!’ she cried, straining at the straps of her pushchair. ‘Shooooooooooooe!’
For the next half-hour, The Baby was in her element. She tried on pair after pair of shoes. She ran up and down the shop. She sat down and admired each style option, and gazed at herself in the mirror. She methodically took every pair off the lower shelf of the sale rack and lined them up on the floor. All while squealing, ‘shoooooooe!’
But despite her evident delight at being surrounded by such objects of beauty, shoe-shopping with The Baby was no mean feat (excuse the pun). Because she’s inherited her mummy’s tiny feet. My childhood was blighted by small, narrow and shallow feet that meant I always had to have boring, fitted, near-orthopaedic styles, while my normal-footed friends got to wear those pretty Mary-Janes with the strap that you could slide back over the heel to convert them to slip-ons; remember those? And after visiting two shoe shops, and pushing our car parking ticket into the third hour, we’d discovered that proper walking shoes are hard to come by if you’re a teeny tiny size three. Most styles, it transpires, start at a four.
But all was not lost. After exhausting our options in the big high street chain stores, we had a last-resort look in the expensive independent shoe shop. It yielded two possibilities; both white (*sigh*), but one more robust-looking than the other.
Of course, The Baby didn’t want the sturdy, sensible shoes. Oh no. She shoved them out of the way in favour of the white pearlescent Italian designer leather pair with glittery red hearts. So scuffable. So impractical. So expensive, at £25 in the half-price sale.
But her luck was in. The more practical pair gaped when she walked, while the designer efforts fit like the proverbial glove. And with them adorning her minuscule feet, The Baby was *not* taking them off again. I left the shop £25 lighter, with The Baby positively beaming about her pretty new ‘shoooooooes.’
They do look pretty. And my inner girlie-girl is secretly pleased that my little tomboy does have a feminine side. But I’m not entirely sure how her beautiful designer shoes are going to stand up to playing football in the mud…