These Boots Are Made for More Than Just Walking
by Dianne Neal Matthews
Living so far from my grandchildren, I was thrilled to find myself visiting when three-year-old Lilah attended “Happy Feet Dance Camp,” a class that included creative movement, crafts, and play. Since Holly, my daughter, had a broken foot, I drove each morning. Sometimes we watched through the big glass window a bit before leaving.
On Tuesday, Lilah put on a cotton dress and pulled out her fancy rhinestone-studded sandals. I knew that she normally picked out her own clothes, but I asked Holly if she shouldn’t wear shorts and tennis shoes to class. Holly said there were no guidelines given, so it would be okay.
The next morning, Lilah asked me to tie her shoes. She wore a dress with a hemline that dipped down low in the back, and was pulling on her brown, slightly scuffed boots that came from a discount store. The sturdy ones with buckles on one side, zippers on the other side, and long laces in front.
“I really don’t think it’s a good idea to wear these boots to class,” I told her. Lilah insisted that she wanted to wear them and added confidently, “Besides, my teachers will love them!”
Later, I took Lilah into the studio, feeling a little embarrassed. I repeated Lilah’s remark to one of the leaders, explaining that Lilah chooses her own outfits. By the time I finished speaking, the leader had one hand on her hip and her head tilted in a sassy way. Looking down, she told Lilah, “Well, that dress is beautiful. And you know what? I think those boots are super cool and I wish I had a pair just like them!”
Looking around, I saw the young moms with their little girls dressed in shorts and tennis shoes. They were all smiling and chuckling about the conversation they’d heard. I turned around and almost bumped into a mom who had not made eye contact with anyone all week, always looking down at her cell phone. Her face was lit up with a big smile and she mumbled something. I’m not sure but I think she said, “Those boots are dope.”
I walked out, stunned by how such a little thing had lifted the mood in the studio and helped people relax and smile. All because a little girl finds such joy in the things she loves. And because she delights in being herself instead of imitating others.
On the last day of Happy Feet Dance Camp, Lilah decided to wear her red Christmas dress with the sequined bodice and layered chiffon skirt. Along with her beloved, scuffed up brown boots, of course. By then, I had learned my lesson. Instead of questioning her choices, I smiled and said, “You look great.”
Dianne Neal Matthews is the author of four daily devotional books; she recently collaborated with Ron L. Deal on Daily Encouragement for the Smart Stepfamily. She writes for periodicals, websites, blogs, compilations, and is on the team of writers for Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus, which is published annually. Connect with Dianne through her website, Facebook, or Twitter.