Maybe it was a statement.
For whatever reason, as the months clicked by and 7 of 8 still wasn’t walking, I started buying her shoes.
Little pink boots with bouncy pink pom-poms. Chocolate brown Mary Janes with pink flowers embroidered on them. Fushia crocs, tie-dyed in pattern, hot pink fleece lining the inside.
Because I wanted to believe that one day she would overcome the effects of the stroke.
She loved wearing her wardrobe of shoes. We would strap them on her little feet. She would admire them. And then she would resume walking on her knees.
The toes of her little shoes became worn and smudged as she scurried around patella-ped.
I began to wonder if I needed to find her pink knee pads rather than shoes.
She’s a tease, my 7 of 8. She has taken steps from time to time, filling my heart with hope. We had an amazing day a couple of months ago when she took ten steps all on her own. She’s thrown us all a little on this walking issue. We were initially much more concerned about her left arm, how weak it seemed, how tightly clinched she held her fist. Her leg didn’t seem to have as much impact from the stroke. But as she passed through being 18 months old, and then 19 months old and is now over 2 years old, she still prefers her zippy little knee walk over rising to her feet.
Hence my toddler shoe shopping therapy.
I’m ready for her to wear down the heels of her shoes rather than the tops.
I came home yesterday with a new pair. She’s outgrown the winter shoe wardrobe. I longed to get her little sandals, strappy little glitter pink numbers. But her little left foot is rebelling at the idea of resting on the natural pads along the bottom of the foot. She holds it in a severe pronated position, her instep flattened to the ground. So I found some Disney Princess sneakers, a dazzling concoction of glitter and pink, licensed Disney princess characters emblazoned on the sides. And LED lights sparkle from the heels and sides every time she takes a step.
And steps she is taking.
She has walked several times in her new shoes, criss-crossing the living room in an uneven gait. She holds her right arm out in front of her, the fulcrum of her unsure balance. She fixes her eyes on the floor ahead of her, her face a study of concentration and goal. And when she reaches her destination, she looks up into all of our faces, looking for approval and encouragement.
And then she checks out those new princess sneakers again.
I think I may get her another pair of princess shoes, a pair to keep in the box, to put up on the high shelf of my closet. That shoe box will hold another fragment of dream for her, another prayer. They’ll probably be pink. They’ll probably have some glitter. And I think they will have a little heel to them, maybe a strap or two. I want them to be her first ‘grown-up’ shoes, her first pair of heels, her first pair to go with a dressy dress.
Because I don’t just want to see her walk in those shoes.
I want to see her dance.