Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Slice of Life - One's True Self

Two Writing Teachers

As I was reading a post on the Nerdy Book Club this weekend, I was reminded of a conversation that took place this summer between me and my son, Ethan.

I have two children, Megan a junior in college, and Ethan a junior in high school. The one thing they have in common is that they are both very quiet.  But Megan is a perfectionist who is very driven, while Ethan will probably live to be 120 because he is so laid back and doesn't let much bother him.

Three weeks before school started, I had taken him and his girlfriend shopping at a nearby mall.  As we were searching for tennis shoes that he liked and came in a size 13.5, we came across a display of Converse Chuck Taylor shoes.

"Oh mom, can I get a pair of these?'  he asked.

I quickly replied, "No, you won't wear them and it would be a waste of money."

"But I really want these,"  he continued.  "Come on.  These are cool."  He tried on a pair, and I tried really hard not to laugh.  This was just not something he would typically wear.

Needless to say, I won that battle, and we left the store without a pair of the Chuck Taylor's.

The real reason I didn't want to buy those shoes is because I thought kids would make fun of him.  I was trying to protect him from something I believed would be inevitable.  

I was trying to protect him from the cruelness of people who are insensitive to those who are different from them.

Two weeks later Megan and I were in Nashville shopping and I received this picture as a text on my phone.  It is my son wearing a pair of Chuck Taylor's.

I immediately texted back and asked him where, when, and why he got those shoes.

"Dad and I just got back from Kohl's and he bought them for me."  

I could not believe it.  I just knew this was the beginning something much bigger. Ethan has many friends, but is not one of the "popular" kids.  He is a golfer, but isn't what I would call one of the "jocks."  He plays the guitar, but he isn't in band.  School started, Ethan began wearing the shoes, and I began to worry.

A neighbor of ours found out that Ethan was wearing the black Chucks.  "G-man," as we call him, has stage four cancer and has started going through things and giving things away.  For some reason, he had a closet full of Chuck Taylor's that had never been worn...and in the exact size Ethan wore.  Ethan now not only owns one pair of Chucks, but six!  And wears them everyday!


So, as I read Sunday's  Nerdy post, I couldn't help but think about these words.

Let’s recall Emerson’s quote from up top, and agree that one of the greatest achievements in life is to become, simply, one’s true self.

To be content in your own skin.
To not look to others for your cues.
To accept and trust who you are, to follow your own inner compass.
I was worried about other kids making fun of Ethan.  But he wasn't.  Maybe I should realize that Ethan might just be his own true self.  That he accepts and trusts who he is.  That he follows his own inner compass.

That he is content in his own shoes skin!

Isn't that one of the goals of parenting?


  1. Who would have thought that shoes can reveal some truth. Reading your slice made me realize that I probably should be less worried about my 17-year old daughter and her choice of clothes.

  2. I loved your post! It is so true. My kids are still little--6, almost 5, and 2--and there are already moments when I have to take a deep breath and hold my opinion back and let Lorelei be Lorelei, and let Ben be Ben and let Kiefer be Kiefer. Because being true to yourself and being confident in your own decisions...man, that's a lesson we all have to learn again and again. Except maybe your son. Maybe he's got that one down. (And, by the way, Chuck Taylors are the bomb diggity. I own two pairs!)

  3. Awesome post - I love that your son stuck with what he knew were his kind of shoes, and now he has a selection to choose from. And, what a wonderful gift to receive - he will hang on to those shoes!

  4. I loved your story and the challenge to be content in our own skin. Your son knew who he was, a brave Converse shoe wearer. And what a blessing to get the shoes in his exact size from your friend.
    This fall I bought a pair of purple Converse high-tops. I am a 55 year old mother. My daughter who is 18 just started a job at Converse, and family gets shoes for 40% off.
    I bravely wear my purple shoes. Being me in my writing, painting and my feet.
    Parenting my children to be brave, and setting an example with my feet!

  5. Leigh Anne, your post is so true. Learning to be our true self. I loved how you shared your thoughts intertwined with the action of the moment.

  6. There is a time when I think we have to trust our kids too, that they do know who they are, and how they're live. Hard on parents, exciting for kids. I read that post too, beautiful words, and love that you've followed that trail too. It's doubly wonderful that your neighbor made this gift-means a lot that you son loves it too! You must have a very special son!

  7. We want to protect our kids, but sometimes we have to let them forge ahead without us. I love the way you realized your son was happy with his own style. My son had his own style in high school. He didn't really worry about fitting in.

  8. I love this post! And your son sounds like such a great kid! Isn't it amazing how we learn so much from our kids?

  9. So glad he is comfortable in his own skin (shoes)! Good for him!

  10. What a great story! So amazing watching them grow into themselves! And so hard sometimes…

  11. Wow. And now this slice holds to much more meaning and special memories!

  12. I feel like G-man's shoes were meant for Ethan! What a gift.