For the duration of my twenties, I pretty much never wore shoes.
I went everywhere barefoot.
It was my version of being a free-spirited rebel.
When I went to class….I was barefoot.
When I sang in coffeehouses….I was barefoot.
When I played the hammered dulcimer in church….yep.
Some people laughed.
Some asked questions.
Some even complained about it.
But I didn’t care.
I was barefoot and fancy free and I loved it.
The only exceptions were public places that wouldn’t let me in without my shoes.
It was nothing for me to jump in the Jeep, shoeless, hair flying everywhere, and blow off work to drive to Grand Haven beach for the day. I would lay on a blanket in the sand by myself, scribbling lyrics to songs and dreaming of all the greatness I would achieve someday.
Never mind that the rent was due.
Or that it was my turn to buy groceries.
I lived in the moment, and others paid for that luxury…aka my roommates.
I just wasn’t aware of it at the time.
These days I can barely remember that girl.
I can’t tell you the last time I took off on a moment’s notice, or went to someone’s house without wearing shoes.
That role is now played by my son.
This child never wears shoes.
He hates them.
It may be a sensory thing with him, I don’t know.
Autism affords Zion a thousand permissions I never had. Public shoelessness is no exception.
He can remove those shoes in the middle of a busy restaurant…as long as he is also squealing and displaying behaviors indicative of autism, and most people do not dare say a word.
At least not to my face.
Having lunch at Fazoli’s?
Those shoes will be kicked off under the table.
Sitting in a reading nook sifting through books at Barnes and Noble?
Said shoes are secretly removed and shoved into a book shelf.
I am constantly telling him to put his shoes back on.
He reluctantly does it…until I look away. And then he takes them right back off again.
Last night I went to see the Christmas Walkway of Lights with my parents and my kids. Zion took his shoes off no less than five times. Honestly, I lost count of how many times I said “Zion, get your shoes on!”
On the return trip home, my mom drove, Zion sat in the front with her (he LOVES the front seat), my dad and I sat in the middle row, and Zoe sat in the very back. I saw Zion slip his coat off ever so slowly, and very stealthily slide the coat down over his feet.
I knew exactly what he was doing.
Zion slowly looked over his shoulder to see if I had noticed, and I just smiled at him. Although when I didn’t call him out for taking his shoes off for the hundredth time, he leaned back and propped both of his bare feet up on the dashboard.
Okay kid, I surrender.
So he refuses to wear shoes. You can call it rebellion. Or sensory. Or comfort.
I call it one thing.