Your shoes are on the right feet!
So when he learned to step into pants and pull a shirt over his head, I stopped participating in getting-dressed-time. If he wanted to wear a red and orange ensemble, fine. Cowboy boots with swim trunks? Sounds good to me. His shoes on the wrong feet? According to who? It just wasn't worth the fight.
Anyway, I'm not big into fashion, so why should I pretend to be via my children?
So even when Johnny, at age four, suddenly started nodding his head and saying shocking things like, "Okay, mom," I continued to let the kids dress themselves.
They do a pretty good job. The boys often dress in all one color, like orange, a sign that they put some real thought into their outfits. A very visible sign. Richie even has a sort of signature style of wearing not only a red shirt and red shorts but even red shoes.
So it's fine. Except the shoes. It turns out I should have corrected the kids on their shoes being on the wrong foot.
I just thought, if it doesn't bother them, it doesn't bother me.
But now Richie not only thinks left is right, he also thinks wrong is right. And that's just wrong.
What happened was he'd walk around the grocery store and zoo with his shoes on the wrong feet. And people would stop in their tracks and say, "Your shoes are on the wrong feet."
Now, many of us respond to comments like this with embarrassment or even brooding. What's that supposed to mean? Was she implying that my feet look clownish?
Not Richie. He is the kind of person who assumes that people stop dead in their tracks to congratulate him on putting his shoes on the right feet.
So he thought that when they said, "Your shoes are on the wrong feet," they meant, "Your shoes are on the right feet. Well done."
He now comes into the living room, and holds out one foot.
"Are my shoes on the wrong feet?" he asks proudly. It's a rhetorical question. He knows he got it wrong, meaning right. Or wrong, actually. Whatever.
"Yes, honey," I say. "Your shoes are on the wrong feet." Which they are.
And he beams.
I'm sure that at some point in his life he'll learn that wrong and right are not the same thing. It will be a very important lesson. But for now, I'd rather let him live in his own world, where people look for the tiniest things to compliment people on.
"Your coat isn't on backwards. Outstanding."
"Your feet are clean. How wonderful for you."
"You walked forwards instead of backwards. I think you're going places."
"Your shoes are on the right feet!"
Just don't tell Richie that. He's confused enough as it is.