As my son’s interest in basketball has officially taken flight, so has his interest in basketball shoes. Up until this point, we’d been able to survive on sales at Target & Academy Sports, typically spending under $25.00 for a basic generic pair on sneakers. A couple of months ago I even found a pair of Adidas running shoes that were on sale for $26 and he loved them. Once on his feet, it took him, and I’m not exaggerating, two months to destroy them. He came home yesterday with huge holes and tears in the clothe which is an important statistic to keep in mind as we continue. Lifespan of last pair of shoes = < 90 days.
As expected, one day he came home from school after seeing a friend of his and their new pair of Nike basketball shoes. He jumped on the computer and began searching. After about fifteen minutes we heard throughout the house, “I FOUND THEM!” The price tag? One Hundred & Seventy Five f’ing Dollars. I use profanity here because that was the first thought that went through my mind when I saw the price. I looked at him; his face all aglow with glee from the imagery of jumping ten feet in the air dunking the ball because of these magic shoes. With as much love and affection as I could, I simply said, “hmmm – not likely.”
He informed me that his birthday was coming up and he would collect all of the money from his grandparents, aunts, uncles, mom, dad, neighbors, sisters etc. and buy them himself. I informed him that as his father I would not be able to allow him to spend $175 on a pair of shoes that would likely last him a couple of months at the rate he was going. Still, throughout the coming days I would find him looking at the shoes on-line as well as in drawings of him playing basketball and smiling at me every time he saw me notice.
While his torn up shoes were still usable, the proud parent in me couldn’t allow him to go to school wearing something that needed to be held together with duct tape (don’t think it didn’t cross my mind) and so I stopped on my way home from work to pick up something. And so I stopped at Academy sports and found a great pair of sneakers on sale for $16.00. And he accepted them with grace and appreciation, although he mentioned a disliking of the laces as they were a little harder to tie. But all told. I thought I was in the clear.
While the requests for basketball shoes died down, he kept showing them to his sisters and sharing his plan of purchasing them with his birthday money. To his credit, there was no whining, no pleading, but it was obvious this new phase of his childhood was here to stay. He was on a hunt and a new pair of basketball shoes was his first target. (no retail outlet pun intended).
Fast forward a bit. His sisters and I had just dropped him off for flag football practice and were headed to Target to get his oldest sister a new pair of sneakers, which coincidently had also began to come apart at the seams. Although in her defense, these had lasted over nine months. It was while looking for these that his other sister noticed the clearance rack of shoes. As our grand bargain hunter, she appeared to have a nose for great deals and was often heard yelling through a store, “Dad look! Two Ninety NINE!!!”
As I was leaning over to find a pair of sneakers in my oldest daughter’s size I heard it; my bargain hound had found something. “DAD! COME HERE! QUICK!” As I got closer I saw what appeared to be a pair of basketball shoes. And sure enough there they were. Same color and basic style as the ones my son was looking at on line. They weren’t Nike, but wow. The price? $8.98. Nearly seventy-five percent off the original price. The ones she was holding were a size 1 which were too small. We began rummaging through the boxes of all the different clearance shoes, and found two more pair of the basketball shoes. A size five and as God is my witness; a two-and-a-half. My daughter was beside herself squealing with delight.
Sparing you the details, I’ll cut to the end and tell you that we picked up my son from practice with the box sitting in his seat. And he LOVED them. The fact that they weren’t exactly like the ones he was after wasn’t lost on anyone. But there was something about the fact that so many people in his life focused on helping him out that seemed to resonate with him. And they were on his feet before I could get the key in the ignition. Despite the fact that it was dark out by the time we got home, he had to test them out on the court (aka driveway) and subsequently made his first seven shots.