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Monday, January 9, 2012

I Taught My Son the Value of Fixing Over Just Throwing Out & Buying Another One

My 3 year old son only has 2 pairs of shoes – one pair he wears to school and out to other places and a pair of waterproof work type boots (just like his daddy’s) that he wears outside for playing in the mud and such.

Now before you think he is deprived, he does have a pair of insulated winter boots for the snow season.

Still thinking he’s deprived?

Why does he need 5+ pair shoes? He’s 3 and will be outgrowing them before he wears them out!

I have heard many parents talking about how they just had to get those shoes because they were so cute! After all, retailers have done a pretty good job at brainwashing us to think our kids need to have at least seven different pairs to wear, lest someone else think we were being uncouth for wearing the same pair more than once in a week.

I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that my son’s pre-school doesn’t keep a fashion offense folder. Now I know, little girls have different, often color coordinated outfits that require matching shoes, right? But that leads into another topic of how many outfits does one toddler need?

Back to shoes.

I don’t have that many pairs of shoes myself. I have a pair of athletic shoes, a pair of boots and maybe 2 pairs of dress shoes. Oh wait, I am a little excessive, I bought myself a cheap pair of dress boots recently. Think I am fashionably challenged? Maybe so, but I just choose to spend my money on other things other than multiple pairs of shoes I never wear.

I wonder how many people have not only a closet shoe rack, but also an under the bed shoe organizer in addition to an over the door shoe organizer hidden behind the closet door. There’s a reason why those organizing items are such a hot buy – so many people have a shoe fetish and they are teaching their kids the need to have multiple pairs, too!

When as a country, did we think we needed excessive amounts of anything just to get by?

I remember as a child we only had two maybe three pairs of shoes. One pair for school, one for church and one for playing, which usually were the old pair of school shoes. When they got dirty and scuffed up, we were handed some rags and shoe polish and were instructed in the fine art of shining shoes. Slave labor or a lesson in frugality?

My son’s play boots have laces, but also a zipper making them fit better. His one boot zipper had been pulled too hard and came off the one side. Thinking they may have been broke for good, I sighed as I said we may have to go shoe shopping to buy him another pair. I was disappointed at having to spend money when these hadn’t even worn out.

My son, not caring about the money, but viewing the act of shoe shopping as being on the same level as having a splinter removed, asked the million dollar question, “Mama, can’t you just fix them?”

I thought, why not? I shouldn’t succumb to the notion that once broke, we just throw it away and buy another one. That kind of thinking has contributed to the fact that we have an overabundance of cheap goods, being made outside of this country, contributing to lost jobs and goods that are basically…..well….crap.

What happened to the time when we fixed what was broke, wore things, drove cars and used up stuff till there was nothing left? Then we took the scraps and made something new out of them. That was true recycling and it wasn't just recycling materials, we recycled our money making it stretch further. This ultimately allowed us to get more for our dollar than we do now and it taught us to rely on ourselves more thereby making us collectively stronger.

If I sound a little preachy, well that may be an accurate accusation, but I am proud that I am teaching my son the value of a dollar comes in more than one fashion. I am teaching him that you can learn to fix things yourself, making what you spent your money on last longer.

And I did. I managed to fix the zipper, much to his amazement and mine. But he doesn’t care about that. He’s too busy jumping up and down for joy over the fact he isn’t being drugged to the shoe store.

Oh wait, he now has come to me with a broken toy stating he thinks it’s time we go to the toy store and get a new one………sigh. I have a long way to go.

Oh, I get it now! Women view shoe shopping as therapy!


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