It was the first Monday of Kindergarten. Jacob was nervous. His hands were trembling as he tried to seal the Velcro laces on his old shoes. He liked the comfortable feel of his shoes on his feet as they snuggled against his toes. He didn’t mind the dirt-caked rubber, or the grass stains.
“I have a surprise for you,” Jacob’s mother sang as she gave him a rectangular box wrapped in bright blue paper. Jacob loved surprises, and his hands moved fast pulling at the silver bow. Before the paper hit the floor he ripped the lid from the box.
Jacob knew he should feel pleased that his mother bought him a pair of new shoes, but he couldn’t hide his disappointment. Although these were shoes from the new Super Hero line, they weren’t the right shoes. Jacob, and all his friends, wanted the black and blue Batman shoes. The shoes with the flashing blue lights. Nobody wanted these red things.
“I wanted the Batman ones. Do I have to wear these?” Jacob frowned at the shoes, and wiggled his toes enjoying the feel of his dirty sneakers.
“Jacob, I had a hard time finding those. I thought you would like them.”
Jacob knew his mom had tried hard, and that she wanted him to be happy. He slipped his feet out of his old shoes, and slowly set them to the side. He knew the corners of his mouth were sagging down. He could feel his bottom lip shaking as he sat down to try on his new shoes. The red was so bright, and it was one of his favourite colours, but Jacob felt sad.
His foot fit in easy, and as he wiggled his toes he was surprised by how comfortable these shoes felt. The Velcro on his new shoes sparkled. Standing, he looked down at his feet. The tongue of the shoe was black against the red of the rest of the shoe, and it looked like a cape. Jacob loved Super Hero capes.
“Jacob, your name is on the bottom of your shoes, but remember what cubbyhole you leave them in. Okay?” Jacob looked at his mother. Her mouth and eyes were set in a stern fashion. These were important instructions.
“Yes Mom, thank-you.” Jacob looked down at his feet, he was surprised to see bright red flashes of light when we walked. He hadn’t realised that these were light-up shoes.
Regardless, Jacob wanted to get his shoes off when he entered the classroom. The walls in the room were covered in brightly coloured letters and numbers. Everyone was having fun, and he didn’t want anything to jeopardize his opportunity to join in.
Jacob was so busy looking around that he didn’t notice the teacher until she spoke. “Hi Jacob,” she said with a warm smile. “You can put your shoes over there, and then join the other children on the carpet.”
The cubby was rainbow coloured. Jacob stuck his shoes in an empty cubby, and hurried onto the carpet. The day went great, and Jacob made lots of new friends. He had a lot of fun, and forgot about his new shoes.
When home time arrived the children all raced to their cubbyholes. Jacob was talking excitedly. He didn’t notice that he put on one of his shoes, and somebody else’s shoe. His mother arrived and he raced over to tell her about story-time, finger painting, learning the letter “A”, and his new best friend Ben. He talked until his mother parked the car at home.
“Did your friends like your shoes?”
Jacob looked down at his feet and noticed for the first time that he was wearing two different shoes. His right shoes was clean and shining at him, but the left was a faded blue with patches worn so thin that Jacob’s big toes stuck out through the top. Jacob’s silence filled the car. Jacob’s mom looked at his feet. “Oh,” she said nodding. “Well, we will just switch back tomorrow.”
School went well on the second day. Jacob didn’t think of his shoe until it was home time. He was the last child to get to the cubbyholes. He looked around, but he couldn’t find his shoe. The only shoe he could find was a bubble gum pink shoe. He slid his foot into it. It felt tight.
That night at dinner both Jacob’s mother and his father made a joke about his pink shoe. Jacob smiled at their efforts to make him laugh, but he missed his new shoe. His mom decided to write a note to the teacher to ask if she could help find the missing shoe.
The next day at school the teacher talked about taking things that belong to somebody else. The children also got a lesson about paying attention to their belongings. The students cleaned their cubbyholes, and lined their shoes up in pairs. All the shoes were matched up except Jacobs.
At the end of the day the teacher explained to Jacob and his father that there had been a few students away. The teacher supplied Jacob with a big green frog head slipper so that he didn’t have to go home in his sock. The head bobbed when he walked, and the dull yellow eyes seemed to stare at Jacob. Jacob’s father called him “froggie” for the rest of the night.
The next day after school Jacob’s shoe still hadn’t turned up. “Well Jacob we can’t send you home in a slipper because it is raining so…” the teacher’s voice trailed off as she looked around.
“But frogs like the rain,” Jacob said as he too looked around.
His teacher was routing through a dress-up chest. She popped up suddenly and turned around. She had a big smile on her face as she presented him with a long red clown shoe. It was oversized, and it had a big red ball on the end of it. The worse part was the heel because it was decorated with red strings and bells.
Stone faced, Jacob slide his foot into the shoe. He kept his gaze down. Could this get any worse? He was aware of his mom saying, “at least they match this time.”
“This is not funny!” Jacob advised them. “I wish I had my shoe back!” Jacob turned and marched out of the classroom. His eyes felt warm and glassy, but he marched on determined to get home and remove his shoes.
As the end of another day approached, Jacob couldn’t help looking for his shoe. He was crawling on the floor looking into the back of the cubbyholes when something white caught his eye. He reached in, and pushed the white thing aside, a napkin, and there behind it was his missing shoe!
He grabbed it, and jumped up. With his shoe over his head he jumped up and down smiling. Everyone stared. He puts his shoe on as fast as he could so that it couldn’t disappear again.
“Wow, Jacob those are really cool shoes,” said one of the boys.
“Yeah, they are. Look at the lights.” Another girl said.
“I wish I had a pair of those. Why haven’t you been wearing those all along Jacob?” Asked another friend.
Jacob smiled and shrugged, “I don’t think I will ever take them off again.”
* * *
I originally wrote this story in 2007, and I recently found it amongst a pile of discarded story ideas. I thought the idea of it was fitting for my current period of life because one of my boys graduated kindergarten not too long ago, and my other boy had a great amount of excitement over some Spiderman sandals just a few weeks ago. So, I reworked it a bit and presented it to you! Hope you enjoyed the read.
By Shari Marshall – 2016