The other day, Sophie pointed to the top pocket of the thing hanging on the back of her closet door, (as opposed to the thing hanging on the front of her closet door, the thing hanging on her bathroom door, on my bathroom door, in Annabelle’s bedroom, on the back of my own bedroom door — you get the idea, at one point I thought those plastic shoe holder things were the key to organization) and asked, “What’s that?”
I thought she was pointing to one of her foot braces. For years now, Sophie’s worn flexible (well, somewhat; the first were totally stiff) ankle braces that fit down into her shoes. This has dramatically limited her choice of footwear. Frankly, for the most part, that’s bothered me a lot more than it’s bothered Sophie. We had one memorable afternoon in Nordstrom’s, trying on shoe after shoe; I hated the thought of sticking her in clunky white athletic shoes. Trish had the brilliant idea of getting her hot pink Converse, which unfortunately didn’t please the physical therapist.
To be honest, Sophie’s walking so well that we cheat a little (ok, a lot) and don’t always put her in her braces. She wears Crocs and Mary Janes and cute tennies that wouldn’t accomodate the braces. So don’t feel so sorry for either of us, though I still don’t put her in clogs; she’s too unsteady. (For that matter, I trip on my own clogs all the time.) I had a buying spree at Last Chance this summer that greatly increased Sophie’s shoe wardrobe and she has a lot of hand me downs from Annabelle.
I was thinking about the shoe thing less because today Ray’s taking her to the orthopedist and we expect she’ll be switched to a hidden plastic insert, and more because of what happened the other night, with the closet.
“What’s that?” Sophie asked.
“Oh, that’s one of your old braces,” I said. Don’t ask me why I’ve saved them all. I honestly think they’re pretty ugly (I realize now I didn’t even bother to take a picture). Once the orthopedist, whose wife is a fantastic local artist and who dabbles himself, took a much larger but similar brace from another patient and turned it into a planter, for a show where artists made planters out of different stuff. I couldn’t look at it.
But those darn braces — the purple ones, the pink ones, the one with butterflies (the babysitter accidentally drove over the other one, luckily without Sophie in it) — they’re all shoved into those pockets on the back of the closet door. It’s not like anyone else can use them, since they’re custom-fitted. And I’m not making planters out of them; no way. I’m just compelled to keep them.
Sort of like I’ve kept the pink velvet overalls I can never put Sophie in. (What? You’ve never heard my riff about how people with Down syndrome should not wear overalls? Not a good look. Perhaps related to “Of Mice and Men”.)
“NO!” Sophie insisted, in the way that only Sophie can insist. “What’s THAT?”
I caught a glimpse of red glitter, and pulled. Two ruby slippers (Target’s finest) that Annabelle’s outgrown emerged. You know, the shoes that have become the requirement for every little girl in America, now that someone brilliantly thought to mass-market them.
So I did, checking the size and warning that they were likely too small. She tried cramming her foot in anyway, then agreed and silently handed the shoes back.
At first I cursed the braces, cursed Sophie’s spaghetti ankles, cursed that extra chromosone.
Then I had to face the fact that really, it’s all because I’m disorganized. Three months ago, those shoes would have fit just fine, and Sophie would have had a great time in them.
Whatever. Life is too short to get upset when there’s an easy solution that’ll cost less than $20. We gave the slippers to a friend with a 2-year-old. And the next time I’m at Target, I’ll pick up a new pair.