Hate is an ugly word. It's a nasty, 4-letter word I strive to keep out of my vocabulary and out of my house. But I warn you, I am about to use the "h" word as there's just no other way to express how I feel about this particular topic. Because I hate Crocs. Really and truly I do. And it's that time of year when sure as dandelions are popping up on my lawn, those ugly, clunky plastic shoes are popping up. Everywhere.
I remember when Crocs first hit the mainstream several years back. "Shoes with holes?" I thought. Who would wear these? What kind of person would purposely make their foot resemble a duck-billed platypus? This trend won't last, I predicted. You probably shouldn't take my stock tips, either.
Today Crocs are everywhere, they've become as acceptable in our sloppy new world as PJ pants at the grocery store. Men wear them, women wear them (a red flag right there- unisex shoes?), and it seems like every child in America wears them. And of course they must be accessorized with those little knick-knacky "Jibbitz" things. And if that wasn't enough personalization for you, the folks at Crocs have come up with an assortment of products to fit every facet of your life. Holiday-themed Crocs for those festive celebrations. College logo Crocs to honor your alma mater. Nice warm fur-lined Crocs for winter. Hey Crocs people, I have news for you: shoes for winter already exist, and we call them boots.
A few years back my Croc-wearing in-laws gave my husband a pair for his birthday. I'm not sure if this was intended to be a gag gift or not, but it did certainly make me want to gag. The offensive footwear was quickly removed to an undisclosed location.
Recently a Croc-o-philic relative (who also happens to be a lawyer) argued in defense of the plastic shoes that they should be considered a sandal alternative, and thus should be tolerated if worn to places where sandals would be appropriate. Perhaps if Crocs had stayed at the park and the playground I wouldn't have such an issue with them. But those nasty plastic things have shown up in offices, at "nicer" restaurants, and even (may the good Lord have mercy on your soles) at church.
Given my strong feelings about Crocs you might find it odd, perhaps even hypocritical, to hear that I recently purchased a pair for my son.
Not actual Crocs, as I am far too cheap for that, but Target's in-house brand of Colorful, Ridiculous And Plastic Slip-On Shoes (we'll call them CRAPSS for short).
It was partly a move born out of potty training, which has made me see the potential merits of a hose-friendly shoe. It was partly because my almost 3-year-old son has entered the "I Can Do It ALL BY MYSELF" phase, and while he can in fact put on regular shoes by himself, it requires setting aside 45 minutes to accomplish. But it was mostly because while walking past the rack of CRAPSS my sweet little boy yelled out "Mommy! Look at those shoes!!" and rattled off the names of all his CRAPSS-wearing friends. "Aidan has those shoes and Carter has those shoes and James has those shoes and Sophie has those shoes and Nicholas has those shoes!" Yes, at the tender age of 2.5 I found myself dealing with my child's first case of "I want what everyone else has" and I caved.
I have memories of waging this war with my own parents (remember Jelly Shoes?), having grown up in a brand-obsessed suburb of Detroit. As a result I can't stand the sight of anything with an obvious logo emblazoned upon it. Burberry plaid makes me dizzy. Louis Vitton emblem-covered bags? Gross. I've spent 3 years trying to convince a well-meaning grandparent that the designer clothes she insists on buying for my toddler (hint: they feature a man on horseback playing a game with a stick) are neither well-made, well-fitting, nor well-worth the ridiculous cost.
Now I'm staring at these silly shoes and wondering what happened to my resolve. It's just one pair of bright blue shoes but with that $9.99 purchase I know we've entered new territory: a minefield where peer pressure threatens to explode with every step. How do you know where to draw the line? Of course we all want our children to be happy and well-adjusted. But how do we teach them in an increasingly consumer-driven, materialistic world to value what truly matters? Which battles are worth fighting and which ones don't hold water any better than a plastic shoe with holes?
Parenting is full of tough decisions and every single one, no matter how big or small, whether a matter of the heart or the foot, comes with consequences. If anyone tells you otherwise... well, it's a crock.