Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Pink Shoes

OSFO's 8th birthday is on Saturday. And you can just imagine the anticipation pulsing through her little body. Yesterday she told Smartmom, after Smartmom promised not to get mad at her, that she sneaked a peek inside Smartmom's closet and saw a big American Girl Doll shopping bag. Smartmom didn't get mad at her. She knows how hard it is to resist spying on one's gifts.

And OSFO knows very well Smartmom's sad childhood tale. Just days before Christmas when she was 8 or 9, Smartmom stood on a chair in a coat closet and found one of her Christmas presents: a pair of pink patent leather Mary Janes from Saks Fifth Avenue. They were EXACTLY what she wanted. A few minutes later, her mother found her in the closet, grabbed the shoes away and reprimanded her.

On Christmas Day, there were no pink shoes. None. Smartmom's parents did, however, give her the shoes a few days later.

Lesson learned.

That story has become a cautionary tale around Smartmom's apartment. If she tries to get hints from Hepcat about her birthday or Mother's Day gift he says: "Pink shoes, pink shoes. Remember the pink shoes." Same for Teen Spirit and OSFO when they ask about their birthday presents: "Pink shoes," Hepcat will say. "Pink shoes;"

And yet as a cautionary tale, "Pink Shoes" just doesn't hold water. Instead, it makes you angry at the parents who felt they had to punish young Smartmom for something so innocent, so human. "Pink Shoes" is not a cautionary tale at all but a poignant reminder of Smartmom's terrible punishment for her delight at finding the gift she so desired.

Shiny, pink, glowing with potential: it was impossible not to hold those shoes in her admiring hands. Even if it was just days before Christmas.

Smartmom was surprised that OSFO peeked at the big, red American Girl Doll shopping bag. But really not that surprised at all.


At 1:58 AM, Blogger Savtadotty said...

Ouch! The reward-and-punishment technique can leave scars. Key question: was it a power trip or a misguided attempt to teach a very difficult skill: self-control? There must be a better way.

At 6:23 AM, Blogger Jhhl said...

It's a good thing she didn't peek at her acceptance letter while applying to Harvard Business School...those kids got Pink Shod too. (Story:

I can't feel too sorry for them - they certainly had back-ups.

At 7:39 AM, Blogger Little Light said...

So, what'd she get?


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