Written by Tommie Battle (@BoneyStarks)
For the folks that have kids, this is in no way judgemental towards you or the way you raise your child. All forms of parenting are different. This piece is simply a narrative on my thoughts and beliefs on the shaping of my children and their character. With that said—rock on.
I recently had a discussion with a friend who has a six-year-old son. He was stressed because he wanted to make sure that his son had the Air Jordan "Gamma" XIs for school, but the kid, being a kid, wanted to buy some Power Ranger light-up jammies from Target. This, in turn, created some anxiety for this father, who wanted his son to look a particular way. I had to remind him that he is a child. And if the little dude wants to kick ass in Power Ranger shoes, let him. He's six for Christ's sake.
What does buying tens or hundreds of pairs of kicks teach your kid?
This led me down a rabbit hole of thoughts and self-reflection. I'm an avid sneaker collector, but do I want my kids to share the same love of kicks that I do?
Naturally, we want our kids to look presentable. But in whose eyes? My daughter says Nike shoes hurt her feet, whether or not that is five-year old for "I just don't like this pair," or if they actually do hurt her, I will never know. My wife and I have always gone off of the beaten path with our kid's choices in shoes. Our plan from the beginning was to make sure that they were growing into sneakers that not only have aesthetic benefits, but health benefits, too. New Balance and Saucony are usually the move, as they come in widths and are often durable for the little duns.
Function aside, a greater question is asked: What does buying tens or hundreds of pairs of kicks teach your kid? Does it encourage materialism? Do they realize at a young age that they have to buy the newest pair of GS LeBrons, Jordans, etc.? I have relatives and friends that have spent a ton of cash on their child’s shoe collections. I always stand amazed because, like my parents before me, I have remained steady in the "they'll grow out of it in six months" frame of mind.
I didn’t grow up in a fashion-forward household. Not to say that my folks were bummy, it’s just that they were children of the '60s. When the '90s rolled around, they had better things to concern themselves with. I recall going to the Navy Exchange (military brats know the deal) and scooping my sneakers at the start of each school year, but never quite getting the models that I wanted. The rationale of “I’m paying for it” or “You’ll grow out of it” can’t be retorted when you’re 10 years old. So, with that said, my love of sneakers wasn’t instilled from home, but rather my peers at school.
This isn't a practice that is suitable for a three-year old, right?
There's also been this new trend of creating toddler style icons on social media that I don't quite understand. These kids are dressed up in high-end clothes and posed and paraded around for likes. Some are even given their own accounts with hundreds of followers. I mean, c'mon, this isn't a practice that is suitable for a three-year old, right? Let them get some macaroni and cheese on their collar. A little Kool Aid and snot never hurt anyone. Again, what values are people encouraging? That our toddlers must do things for an audience? It's a slippery slope.
Large footwear manufacturers make a killing off of kicks for kids. There will always be a market for kids sneakers, because there will always be, well, kids needing shoes. But remind yourself when you're fitting them for that pair of Jordans that you've been keeping stowed away since you were 22: Let your kid wreck them. Let them play in dirt, splash in puddles, and stomp in dog shit. Don't stress them about kicks, it should be the least of your worries, because it’s certainly the least of theirs.