My son had what you might consider an unhealthy obsession with shoes from a young age. It started with his teeth. His first tooth came in at three months and they continued in what felt like a nonstop stream for the next three years.
Like most babies who start moving around, he would put anything he could find in his mouth. It’s the baby handshake, like dogs sniffing each others butts. Gabe would chew on just about anything he could find, but he took it to a whole new level with shoes. His favorite were my thick leather flip-flops. I quickly learned to put them on the shelf next to our front door after stepping into small puddles of cold drool, and then to find a better hiding place.
Those were his favorites, but a shoe was a shoe. Once we learned to keep our shoes out of his reach he would take any lapse as a chance to stash one away for later, to do with as he would.
One night my wife was getting ready to go out with her friends. It was the first time seeing her best friend in a couple of years and one of her first going out since having our son. She had her outfit picked out and ready to go, but she couldn’t find her favorite pair of black flats. We looked just about everywhere there was to look for those shoes – and in our first house there wasn’t a lot of space to look – but could only find one. She eventually settled for a different pair and went on her way.
Two hours later, Gabe was getting tired but he was fighting sleep. I was letting him run out any extra last burst of energy when I noticed he had been quiet for an awful long time. I called his name, then stood up to notice that he’d somehow gotten through the baby-gate leading into the kitchen and den.
I started to walk that way when he came bustling into the living room in his patented shamble run. Even though he was still trying to master the art of walking, my son insisted on running when he could, and it looked like (and sometimes was) disaster just waiting to happen.
“Mommy’s shoe, found!” he beamed as he bestowed upon me his trophy. He was completely naked and in his hand was my wife’s missing shoe.
“Wow, good job buddy,” I started. “Where did y-”
That was when I looked at the shoe. I did a double take. Then a triple take.
I got my son a diaper and put his pajamas back on him, and then I rushed to get my cell phone. I texted my wife the following:
“The good news is, Gabe found your shoe. The bad news is, he took a crap in it.”