T has been on a shoe strike for over a year now. He decided one day that he didn’t want to wear shoes with laces, or shoes that were white, or anything different from his two Chosen Shoe types: Crocs and LL Bean Comfort Mocs. We are currently on the third pair of brown Comfort Mocs in successively larger sizes. This past summer, he diverged a bit to wear some Merrill sandals with a covered toe – something I worked hard on because he was going to day camp and needed to be wearing something more sturdy than Crocs. We even had some trouble this winter convincing him to try winter Crocs – the ones with the fleece lining! Three pairs of shoes have gone back to the Stride Rite store – three really cool pairs of shoes, I might add – which were absolutely rejected. Thank goodness for 30 day return policies.
He has started attending a motor activity clinic downtown on Saturday mornings, which is run by the university where Rob works. He is paired up with PT or OT undergraduate student and spends two hours of one-on-one time with this person. 45 minutes in the gym, 45 minutes in the pool. Awesome! I decided that now was the time to get him back in athletic shoes, come hell or high water.
So, here’s what I had to do: out came the tub of mini chocolate chip cookies and the pair of shoes. I showed him the shoes, which he shoved back toward me while saying “NO SHOES.” I showed him the cookies. Got him to sit down and hence the game began. Any time he even put just his toes in a shoe, he got ½ a cookie. (The cookies are the size of a quarter, so no lectures on sugar, please.) Then I upped the ante: to get a cookie, he needed to put his foot in, but not his heel yet. Once that was a success, then the heel had to go in. This was the hardest part, and the point at which I got kicked accidentally in the face. I’ve learned from experience that I cannot react when something like that happens, so on we went as if nothing happened – no permanent damage done. Then I counted “One, two…” and he said “Three!” and on went the shoe, just for just a second. Cookie earned. After several rounds of this, then it had to stay on for 3 seconds. Another cookie earned. After several rounds of this, Rob stepped in and we put both shoes on for a second. Cookie. Both shoes on for several seconds. Cookie. And then it was time for bed.
I won't minimize the patience this took. There were several times I wanted to just shove that shoe on his foot and force him to wear it - and I was close several times. But in those heated moments, the Still Small Voice said that if I do that, then he'll be even more traumatized by the shoes and would never wear them. So I took a deep breath (and a cookie or two myself), and went on.
The good news: the next day, he put on those athletic shoes (after a minor bout of prostesting.) Today, when I went to put on his brown shoes, he said “No brown shoes” and put on the athletic shoes! So okay, they didn’t match his Sunday outfit, but who cares. He’s wearing different shoes!