For today, please be amazed by how cute these wee tiny feet are in their new sandals:
My little girls and I had the experience of shopping for new shoes with my mom yesterday at Saxon Shoes, a time-honored, revered tradition in Richmond. Richmonders are particularly in love with their old traditions (Miller and Rhoads Santa, anyone?), and nearly everyone I know who grew up in the area has some memory of going to Saxon as a kid. Its status is nearly the stuff of legend, like the icing from Dots bakery at Ukrops grocery store. In the mind of Richmond natives, no one makes a cake like Ukrops...and no one does children's shoes better than Saxon.
This particular Saxon has an amazing kids' shoe area. Children and their parents take an elevator ride down to their own floor, separate from the grownups' shoes, where they are measured and fitted by professionals. After making their selections and checking out, all the well-heeled little clients leave by way of their own special child-sized door (with balloons, of course).
The Sisters love shoes. They are frequently seen parading around the house in shoes belonging to various members of our family. Any unoccupied sneaker, flat or slipper is fair game for them. Nora is especially partial to boots. Because of their intense fascination with footwear, I expected the shoe shopping trip to be (mostly) fun.
Very rarely have I made such a serious miscalculation.
The situation was complicated by Lucy's somewhat paralyzing stranger anxiety and the unlikely presence of a second set of twins in the store. The Other Twin Mom, nearing the end of the shoe fitting process, hailed us with a wave, calling out, "Look! More Twins!" Her identical two-year-old boys wore matching pajamas accessorized with matching pacifiers in their mouths. Each of them had chosen a different pair of shoes, and their mother was busily ordering a second pair of each style so that there wouldn't be any fights over which boy got to wear which shoes. (She explained this to me not-quite-frantically as her boys wailed at the top of their lungs, refusing to take off the shoes.) The three salespeople, two grandparents and one older sister surrounding the twins and their mother stared perplexedly at them and seemed rooted to their spots. No one stepped forward to help contain the chaos. The Other Twin Mom chattered at the boys over their screams, alternately calling their names and telling them they would get to keep the shoes. "Don't worry, sweetie pie, no one is going to take away your shoes, okay now? Okay? Okay?" she pleaded, trying desperately to hold one of them by the ankle and pry the shoe off his foot. He kicked her in the chin and screamed louder.
Lucy turned around to look at me and whimpered, "Mama."
Nora grabbed shoes from the low table and tried to put them on her feet over her own shoes.
I stared at The Other Twin Mom, transfixed, unable to tear my eyes away.
When a soft-spoken gentleman with neatly combed salt and pepper hair appeared at my elbow and asked if we were being helped, we hastened over to a quiet (well, relatively quiet) corner of the store so the girls could be measured. Sending my most supportive "I've-been-there" looks to The Other Twin Mom, I sat down with Lucy on my lap, guiltily trying to squelch my rising pride in my cute, well-behaved little daughters.
The gentleman leaned toward Lucy to unfasten her shoe.
In an instant, my sweet tiny girl transformed into a screeching banshee. Screaming, kicking, thrashing, yelling, "NONONONONONONO!", she flailed her arms and legs, refusing to be held or touched by anyone.
Stunned, the gentleman jerked his hand back as if she had bitten him. "I'll try this one instead, then, shall I?" he said gravely, and reached for Nora's foot.
Eyes wide, she yanked her foot away as he touched her shoe, then burst into tears (which quickly escalated into wails and sobs).
Now both Sisters were screaming so loudly that I felt certain no one was looking at the Other Twin Mom. We were center stage. My cheeks burned as I struggled to hold Lucy's foot against the shoe measuring thingy, silently begging the gentleman to hurry as he squinted at the silver lines under her toes. Size three? Size four? What did it matter? Why didn't we just get shoes at Target? My mom bounced Nora on her hip, trying to distract her by carrying her around the store. Their wails seemed to echo off the ceiling as their two very separate personal crises converged. It was a rare Twin Tantrum, a perfect storm of crying and screaming and wailing and gnashing of teeth, and it was all so very public...one of those occasions in which the whole is definitely louder than the sum of its parts.
Somehow, in spite of all the back-arching and kicking, we managed to get The Sisters measured. The shoes arrived, and I succeeded with some effort in getting one sandal on each girl's foot. "Close enough for government work," the salesman remarked crisply. My mom (known as the Shoe Grandma for her practical gift-giving tendencies) paid for the shoes while I tried to calm the girls enough to get them back into their stroller. Lucy hiccupped and refused to meet my eyes. Nora slumped in her seat with a shudder and seemed relieved that no one was trying to touch her.
As I wheeled the double stroller carefully into the elevator, my hands were shaking.
Upon reflection, it was altogether a mildly mortifying but not horrible experience. The girls were pacified by (if not overjoyed with) their balloons, and the 20 percent discount for twins (yay!) helped convince me that it will someday be okay to show our faces in the store again.
If we can somehow be certain that the poor gentleman we abused this time will be off work on our next visit, there's a small chance we might possibly someday return to Saxon.
Stay tuned for more twins next week.