It began with a quest for party shoes, apparently impossible to find in the greater Chicago area. Simple black patent Mary Jane's are clearly a thing of the past, the MJ's of today have bows and ribbons and sparkles. Or heels, that is just what my not always coordinated four year old dancing queen needs, heels. Like so many things, shoes seem to be less and less little girls shoes and more and more small mom shoes. In Kate's size we have found mini pumps, ballet flats with lace up ribbons and peeky toe faux wedgies, please, she is four, she is still a little girl. Stride Rite makes Mary Jane's, bless them, but this time of year they are only available in white or bone. She is not a nursing student, she is a pre kindergartner who is looking for father daughter dance appropriate footwear. Found, but in an outlet store in the far Western suburbs; fine, we'll make it a day, a little car trip for the three of us.
But first we have to stop and see a new apartment, and that will only take a few minutes. And we need to walk Eleanor Roosevelt, that's nothing, and then we'll leave, and after the apartment tour we'll stop for tea and a muffin, and then we'll go. Ready set, crash...Kate fell while walking the dog, full out splat on the sidewalk, both knees covered in blood, and just two buildings down the street. I hand Mary the dog, scoop up a sobbing Kate, survey the damage, the dog takes off, and the neighborhood dog walker grabs her, brings her back and upstairs we go to clean the knees, change the pants and still make it to the apartment showing in 15 minutes. Done, knees are scuffed but alive, one large band-aid, clean pants and "MOM, Rosie pooped in our room!". Right, Mrs. Roosevelt did not finish her morning walk and has clearly decided to voice her disgust with the children. Clean the offending and disgusting mess, sanitize the room, lock the dog in the bathroom, grab the children and head out the back door with no chance of being on time. Circle the block, no parking, no surprise, circle again, spot the realtor in his car in front of the building, "Hello, hi, yes, I'm so sorry, we had a series of mishaps but we're here, just so sorry, and, what?". The realtor could not get his keys to work, someone was to have called me, no one did, he's very sorry, perhaps we could reschedule?
We stop for the promised muffin, and tea, at the neighborhood tea shop. The girls find a table while I juggle two milks, two plates and a cup of hot tea, fully expecting to drop the entire order with a crash onto the floor of the urbanely quiet spot; I am one of the few people here, ever, with kids. Tempting fate I turn to add milk to my tea, sit back down, catch my back pocket on the chair and rip off the entire back of my pants. Quickly I sit. The girls eat their muffins, oblivious to their mother's posterior exposure. Thankfully I am wearing a cardigan that can be tied around my waist, although under the cardigan is a sleeveless shirt and it's not yet 50 degrees in Chicago. As if I walk through the city every 45 degree day with bare arms, I casually pass the woman in a down parka and hat, scoot the children out the door and back into the car. Home again, wardrobe maladies corrected, back into the car and we're off.
Two traffic accidents (not ours) and an hour and half later we arrive. They have the shoes, simple black patent Mary Jane's with just enough click in the heel to make the requisite four year old dancing sound. Of course Kate is sidelined with injury to both knees and is walking like a bent up old chicken with bowel issues but should she chose to rebound and hit the dance floor, her feet will be ready, tip tap tip.