fuzzy memories, extra wide

For as long as I can remember, feet have been a part of my identity. To put my way through college, I was a shoe-salesman.

When I was younger, I was pretty pigeon-toed (which I just learned is also called "false clubfoot, egads). It was prett significant, to the point where I had to wear corrective shoes. I don't remember much about them, but they were sturdy. My older sisters lovingly chided me about them, and called them my "clod-hoppers."

I don't think I knew what clod-hoppers were (I still don't, I resisted the urge to wikipedia them as a sign of solemn protest to the afflicted), but I knew that I was the butt of a joke. My sisters stopped calling them clod-hoppers when they were assaulted with three pounds of solid rubber.

After I graduated from my hot orthopedic shoes, I used to proudly proclaim my triumph over being false clubfooted. I even confused the severity of the condition with some other, more real parts of my childhood.

Before I was born, my older brother Tim was hit by a car. The accident left him confined to a wheelchair, and he did have shoes, or some type of leg braces with a metal bar in between the shoes connecting at the arches of the feet. Somehow, in my post-clod-hopper daze, I was convinced that Tim's shoes with the metal brace were actually mine, to cure me of being pigeon toed. I used to tell people that my condition was so severe that I had to wear a metal bar between my legs. People used to feel really sorry for me, and impressed that I had overcome such severe disadvantages in life.

All these feelings came swirling back to me as I look at George's adorable feet. Last week George and Ashley were visiting Grandma & Grandpa Potter, and Grandma took George to a very nice children's shoe store. I'm ashamed to admit, but we had essentially been confining George's poor feet to some crude brogans in what can only be described as modern day foot-binding.

Ok, it wasn't that bad, but... he was wearing shoes that were too small for him. Poor little guy. At the shoe store they measured George's feet and out came the results: 6.5. Extra wide. I don't know what it is, but the "extra wide" rings through my head, summoning images of pigeon toes, metal braces, John Elway, etc. It's likely that this is just common sizing issue with little chubby feet.

But what if it's a part of his identity for his entire life? What if he always has to wear birkenstock sandals? What if he's an incredible swimmer because of his flipper like feet?

I'm under no illusion that having extra wide feet will be something George has to think about beyond toddlerhood, or that it's even atypical. But, I do like the idea of learning little things about this guy, things he comes into the world with. Things he can't change. Maybe he'll invent a story that explains his extra wide feet, and how he went on to become a world class tap-dancer, or soccer player?

I hope I get to discover more of these things about him - and I hope for his unborn siblings sake, they don't tease him about it or they might find themselves on the receiving end of toy-projectile.

Be proud George. Stand tall. Stand tall on those extra wide feet of yours. I love you buddy.


Dawn D. Lion said...

David, we were seriously mean to you, in a way that I'd never let my own children get away with. Maybe we were teased a lot at school, and it rolled down to you. Or maybe it was unreleased anger from Tim's accident. Whatever the reason, I think your post is going to send me back to therapy. Or Middle Ages-style penitence.
Anyway, what kind of shoes did George get? Ivan's very particular about his shoes. He refuses to wear his "sports sandals," he seizes them and throws them away whenever I try to put them on his feet. His favorite besides the yellow boots are a hand-me-down pair of classic Vans.

david said...


he got these and

thanks grandma potter!

and about the meanness... i think i turned out pretty ok, and you've certainly redeemed yourself so no sweat. i still remember when you were in high school and you taught me how to enlarge a drawing using the grid system, and how when i took an ill-advised liberty with horizontal grass drawing and started to cry, you supported me very lovingly. even steven.

blythe, you are still on the hook. ; )

Serena Cherry said...

New Balance are great shoes with the wide foot. I used to sell kids shoes and loved to get my hands on those adorable, chubby extra wide's out there. Truthfully, most chubby kids are extra wide, but not that many people actually get it checked. Lane had x-wide and no surprise, Henry's and x-wide as well, but since he's not walking yet, we just let him hang out shoeless for the time being.
Just so you know, it could be worse, stride makes a DOUBLE extra wide. Which is also incredibly adorable. It is only in the infant size, because I would say 99.9% of kids grow out of it. The only shoe you can get in the double x-wide is a white boot. Ha! Almost as bad as your corrective shoes.
PS I was also pidgeon toed.

Blythe said...

I think I should be off the hook too, because eventually you learned that it is "making fun of you" rather than "making in front of you".

For those who don't know this hilarious story:

Preschool age David: "Mom, the girls are making in front of me!"

Mean older sisters: "No, David. You're supposed to say 'making in back of me'."

Scarred for life David: "Mom, the girls are making in back of me!"

Also, who now sends cute baby clothes?

Dawn D. Lion said...

Uh, Blythe, telling *more* stories about us teasing David is not helping to further our cause.
Poor baby David. We're lucky you didn't punch out a plate glass window.
Seriously. How did our parents let us get away with this?
I guess this was interspersed with kind moments. I hope. Let's change the subject back to shoes.

ashley said...

Dawn, I also feel guilty for things I did to my siblings. It isn't fun to revisit them at all.

That being said, David is a very happy, kind person. I believe your teasing him did not influence him to be a worse person-- in fact, I think he has some pretty great sisters and brothers!

That made it sound like only SOME are great-- not intended. You are all great. Can't wait to see you guys soon.

Dawn D. Lion said...

Thanks, Ashley. I guess as older siblings we're all like the parent that wants to hear that they never made any mistakes with their child. But that's what family is for, to help you keep track of your growth as a person, b/c you know they will always remember the gory details!

david said...

i agree with what you guys all said.

i am pretty great.


Priscilla said...

I love those shoes because they look like ones my dad wore in an 1913 (really) photo. George has adorable feet and is perfect in every way. By the way- the shoes you used to hate as a child were very much in style in the 90's only they were called Dr. Martins.

Benson and Jaimi said...

Great post! I had the corrective shoes with the bar in between as a kid too. My dad thought it was fun to swing me around by the bar until my shoes slipped off and I went flying into the bookcase. Thanks Dad.