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Listen up, parents. This will make your year. A running shoe with a spring built into the heel was unveiled recently - priced at $500 a pop. Theoretically, it is a shoe you have to buy only once in a lifetime and will slice seven seconds from a four-minute mile. It's the latest in a line of shoes that make kids jump higher, run faster and look taller.

Children all over the country who never walk anywhere will demand them. Children who wouldn't travel to the front door to let the dog in if he were tunneling under the house will swear they cannot live without them. They will get a paper route, borrow from the credit union, engage in serious whining or anything it takes to buy a pair.Kids have always been pushovers for something that will improve them without any effort whatsoever on their part.

They go back to the days when Wonder Bread claimed to make them jump taller than a basketball hoop if they ate four slices a day. They conned parents into buying a toothpaste that they actually believed made stars jump out of their mouths when they smiled.

Their popularity hinges on their hair. If it is bright and shiny, girls will dangle from their arms like Christmas tree lights. If they are denied this miracle shampoo, they are doomed to being short, fighting bad skin and having no hopes of a future.

So why do parents cave in to pressure for these products? Probably because there's a little bit of Peter Pan in all of us. When I sit on a stool in the cosmetic aisle, I want to believe that those silky creams basting my face will fill in the laugh lines the size of drainage ditches.

The price of these shoes should make buyers drop dead in their tracks, but it won't. I can hear kids whining now, "I need a pair of $500 shoes for college."

"Let us buy you a secondhand car instead. Then you won't have to fiddle with shoestrings and all that nonsense."

"Oh sure! I'll be the only kid on campus who drives. All my friends will spring to classes."

My husband is a runner. I told him about the shoes. The man doesn't have the patience to wait for a traffic light to change, but he spends three months selecting the right running shoe. Like the kids, he believes that milk makes you strong and eating the right oleo can put a crown on your head.

He believes that with these shoes he could set a record in Boston in his age group. He has a loose spring - and it isn't in his $500 shoes.