Chaos ensued. Chris could only validate one size; the other pair of shoes was too worn down to read. Lars began calling out names of friends of his that have sneakers like what he wanted. Ross started with a color - black - and wanted the kind with some letters, V-A-N-S. Their voices swam in and out of focus and I pictured the kids leaping at Chris like puppies, trying to get close to the phone to make sure their orders were placed. Finally, the kids settled a bit. I got Ross on the phone and asked if he wanted sneakers like the ones he has (sans letters) or if he must have the letters? When he didn't answer right away, I put in that the ones he has are $18 and the ones with letters are $36, then explained that we'd split the cost of the more expensive ones, if he wanted those. The idea of using $18 of his current $19 on shoes didn't hold much appeal, so he settled for ones without letters. I started to describe the three color and pattern choices in the shoes before me but got frustrated, so we hung up. I picked two pairs of shoes and got out of there.
I found the two skeptics at home, arguing. Ross clearly did not think anything in my bag would ever touch his feet. Lars looked worried about why Ross was looking like someone had covered the sun and wondering if he should also be concerned. "Ok," I said, "I'm going to give you the shoes I picked out. You can say whatever you want to - POLITELY - about them. If you don't like them, we'll take them back. IF YOU EXPRESS YOURSELF IN AN INAPPROPRIATE WAY," I raised my voice for emphasis, "Any inappropriate way, we will take these shoes back and arrange some very pink, probably sparkley GIRL SHOES for you to wear until your feet grow again." After a bit of mumbled discussion, they followed me downstairs.
With the threat of glaring girl shoes hanging over their heads, the boys viewed their new sneakers. Amazingly, both of them were happy with my choices! As they tried on their new shoes, Ross asked, "Mama, you wouldn't really have made us wear girl shoes, would you?"
I cheerily retorted, "Oh, yes I would have!"
"Told you," Lars sneered, and with that the boys ran off to