The year was 1986.
I was the same age my daughter is now…13, and in the 7th grade.
And I had a pair of jelly shoes that I wore like they were a second skin.
Remember jelly shoes?
It is a little ridiculous to even call them shoes.
They were made of a non-supportive, extremely bendy plastic. Mine were sort of a pearl color, smattered with glitter.
I loved them.
I also had a pair of moon boots that had been purchased for me by my parents.
I hated those things.
They were hideous.
Bulky, grey, absolutely hideous dork boots that were loud when I walked and made me feel like the stay-puff marshmallow man.
Not a good look for a girl who was already awkward and chubby.
I never understood why they bought those things. I hadn’t planned on taking any trips into space, so I found them absolutely repellant.
That year I prayed to sweet baby Jesus it wouldn’t snow.
But alas, it did.
The first snow of that year I got ready for school as usual. I put on my jelly shoes at the last minute so my dad wouldn’t see, and I ran for the door. And right before that door closed, I heard my dad holler, “Hold it!”
I slowly stuck my head back inside and my dad said, “What do you have on your feet?”
My heart sank.
“Shoes,” I replied.
Of course he knew what I had done. He made me come back into the house. His offer was extremely reasonable, but of course I thought he was the meanest dad alive. He said that I needed to wear the moon boots until I got to school, and then I could change into the jelly shoes.
I cried and begged and pleaded for him to change his mind.
But he wouldn’t.
So I put the stupid boots on, and put the jellies in my bag.
And dad went on his merry way to get ready for work.
Once his bedroom door closed, I got an idea.
A stupid, stupid idea.
Hmmmm….I can just wear the jelly shoes, and hide the moon boots in the back of my closet. I will get home from school before he gets home from work, and he’ll never know.
(Oh, silly rabbit.)
So I did it. I made the exchange, chucked the boots in the back of the closet, and ran off to school.
I was sitting in first period with my Bonne Bell lip smackers and my sparkly jelly shoes. I was feeling pretty cute and smug, having pulled one over on the big guy…
when I heard a knock at the door.
I looked over and what I saw still scares the crap out of me to this day.
It was my dad, peering through the glass in the door.
The teacher went and opened the door, and there stood dear ole dad.
In all of his glory.
He was bundled up like Nanook of the North. The coat, the scarf, the giant gloves. And to add insult to injury, he was wearing a cousin Eddie-style ear-flap hat…snapped underneath his chin.
Oh, and one more thing.
He had my moon boots in his left hand.
I immediately started crying, because I already knew what he was going to do.
He said, “I need to speak to Angela, please.”
I got up slowly, and walked through a sea of giggling classmates.
When I stepped out into the hallway, my dad said, “Give me the shoes.”
Oh my God, was he serious? Did he really think I was going to wear those awful, ridiculous moon boots the rest of the day?
Yep. That’s exactly what he thought.
He took my jelly shoes. And I clopped back into that classroom, in my moon boots…mortified.
I was about 1/2 way through my day, when my choir teacher got wind of the situation, and brought me a pair of K-Swiss to change into.
But it was too late. The damage was done.
Of course now, I think this story is hilarious…because now, I’m a parent.
Now I understand why dad had to turn that experience into a scene from an 80’s movie.
And while Bootgate was extremely humiliating, it taught me that my dad meant business.
Don’t get me wrong, I still pushed his buttons for years.
But now that I have my own teenager, and I am in my dad’s shoes, (pun intended) I have learned that teenagers just love to push buttons.
And test waters.
That’s what they do.
I try really hard to be calm, cool and collected. But some nights, like Friday night, I lose it. She takes a moment to test my boundaries, and I snap. I grab those moon boots and march into her school…only to find out that I misconstrued the situation, and she isn’t wearing the jellies after all.
She’s 13. And she is my kid, so of course she is going to be sassy. And independent.
That’s the way I’ve raised her to be.
But sometimes that really doesn’t make it any easier when you hear your own sarcasm and sass coming back at you, does it?
It’s all a part of growing up, and asserting oneself.
I remember when I was in college, my dad said to me one afternoon, “I raised you to be independent, and then resented you when you displayed that independence.”
I thought that was one of the wisest and most honest things my dad has ever said.
And now I’m starting to see what he meant.
Every situation is an opportunity for said teenager to exert her independence, and push the boundaries.
Will mom give in if I just push a little harder?
How many times can I eat Fruit Loops and Cheez-its and pass that off as nutrition?
How much innuendo can I get away with without getting in trouble?
How many times can I put on these yoga pants and try to wear them out into public before mom just gives up and gives in?
I get it. I’ve been that 13 year old.
So it’s all just moon boots to me.
Mom does not give up.
Mom never gives up.
She was raised by the man in the ear-flap hat.