Breaking in new shoes may mend relationship with son

“Children love to walk in their parent’s shoes; make sure they have strong ‘souls.’” – Vanese Henley
Oct 20, 2012
Walk a Mile in These Babies  Photo: Jared Felkins • Lebanon Democrat

The view from behind Jared Felkins’ desk at The Lebanon Democrat includes both his new sneakers and a view of family not far from his heart. 

“Children love to walk in their parent’s shoes; make sure they have strong ‘souls.’” – Vanese Henley
There’s not much I wouldn’t do for my children, and sometimes that means undoing my wife’s work. It’s certainly not intentional, but it happens.
My wonderful and supportive wife, Mary, currently doesn’t work, and the next few sentences of this column might be one of the most important I’ve ever penned in regard to the health of my marriage.
When I say she doesn’t work, what I mean is she doesn’t head off to a job in the mornings with coffee in hand, punch a clock, listen to a boss give instruction, mill around with fellow co-workers at the water cooler at break, work some more, eat her bagged lunch, work some more, juggle a call from a teacher explaining the punishment one of our three children received after a classroom outburst, work some more, head home to meet the children at the bus stop, listen to her husband ramble on about how hard he has it at his job over dinner she cooked in between helping with homework and the next day’s lunches before crawling her weary body into bed at around midnight after folding a load of clothes.
Though she’s been there, her actual job now is much tougher.
She sends our oldest two children out the door, most of the time playing chauffeur during their ride to school each morning. During that time, she makes sure their lunches are packed, homework is done, clothes match, hair is combed, teeth are brushed, etc., etc., etc. That hour-long process just begins the day.
During the day, she keeps our household running while caring for our 4-year-old, which in many cases is a full-time job in and of itself.
Bryley, the youngster of the family, always seems to have a question for everything that even the most complex answer won’t suffice.
To make matters worse, many days she’s stuck at the house with no transportation after my van took a dirt nap a few weeks ago along Interstate 40 on a trip back from Cookeville following a Lebanon prep football game. It was Mary who came to my rescue in the middle of the night with all three children in tow to watch the tow truck whisk my old van off to the scrap yard.
After a full day of dealing with life’s challenges and supplying Bryley with the occasional yogurt cup or string cheese, she greets our oldest two children at the bus stop. From there, I figure something in between chaos and insanity ensues.
Each child has his or her own needs, and many of them are not easily accomplished with lack of transportation.
Though I’ve never physically witnessed the process in action, I am fully briefed each evening. Most days, I know what to expect through a warning text. Thursday’s, for instance, read, “I’ve reached my breaking point.” I know it’s bad then.
And many times just seconds after I hit the door, they always seem to want something – mostly items their mother has already vetoed. I’m sure it doesn’t make things easier to have someone come along and undo work that’s already done.
I tell you all this to not only share my wife’s contributions to our family, but also to illustrate how much I’ve been working lately. Few days have gone by that I haven’t left at 7:30 in the morning to return at around midnight. Not to go into too much detail, but there’s a lot going on around the newsroom right now. Trust me, it’s only temporary and well worth it.
So to say I haven’t been much a part of my family’s life lately is quite the understatement. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to accompany my long-lost family to the outlet mall in Lebanon. Saturdays are usually the only day each week I get to spend with the crew these days.
We were in the Nike store searching for my wife a pair of running shoes when I decided I might take a look for a pair for myself. I mean, my old tennis shoes have just about had it.
Quickly, my son, Bryant, got into the search, and let’s just say his taste and mine in sneakers are about as far apart as Obama and Romney these days.
But alas he searched, and I let him. He wanted to find dad a pair resembling some he got the weekend before. It might not have been the best idea after he returned with some black-and-white polka-dotted cross trainers.
So as to not break his spirit and much to my reluctance, I tried them on.
“Hey, these things are pretty comfortable,” I told him as I scooted the simple, gray sneakers I had picked out behind my back.
So I’m the proud owner of polka-dotted Nike sneakers, and Bryant couldn’t be more proud.
And it’s moments like those that make all these long hours my wife and I have been putting in lately all worth it. I just dare anyone to say anything bad about my new sneakers. I will defend them to the grave for my son’s sake. After all, there’s not much I wouldn’t do for my children.
Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. He may be reached at 615-444-3952 or jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter @PaperboyFelkins.

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