Driving down the road the other day, I saw a single child's shoe lying on the curb.
If the mate had been there, a passer-by might have stopped to claim a pair of expensive name-brand hightops, small size, in nearly new condition.But as it was the little sneaker sat there all alone, and I could almost feel the neon laces tugging at my heart as I drove on, wondering which child's mother would be frantically searching under beds and in the toy box the next morning for her son's missing shoe, oblivious to the fact that for one reason or another her little boy had taken it off a long way from home and abandoned it.
Perhaps the little guy had left his sneaker sitting there immediately after removing it, or maybe he had carried it a ways, and then, bending to capture a crippled butterfly, had set the shoe down just so upon the curb, and wandered home to show his mom what he had found. However it happened, one shoe was left, and the other was taken home, and he might as well have left them both.
Kids do that with shoes - forget them that way. It's out of sight and out of mind. A child can leave his footwear at a neighbor's house and then forget he ever wore them there. Then it's up to mother, if she's lucky enough, to round them up again.
My youngest son takes losing things in stride: "When you don't know where our shoes are, you can't find them," he says, expecting me to understand that it's not particularly earth-shattering if you're 3 years old and you have to go stocking-foot to church a time or two.
One Saturday afternoon the children of some old college friends of ours spent a couple of hours jumping on our trampoline while their parents sat inside our house with us sipping lemonade and reminiscing about our years at Utah State University.
Several days later, we received by express mail a box containing a lovely pair of little girl's leather sandals. "Our son put these shoes in our car by mistake!" the accompanying note read. "He thought they were his sister's, but she was wearing hers."
It took us half the night to find out which one of our neighbor's children they belonged to.