I have to admit that, many years after they were fashionable (if they ever really were in the first place), I wear Crocs. They were big among children, but somehow adults wore them, too. Crocs now has lots of shoes that don’t even resemble the ugly Crocs of yore. But mine are those ugly Crocs.
I picked mine up at a rummage sale for cheap–very cheap–and mostly slip them on when I take the dog for a walk. But I also took them along on a weekend trip, because I don’t own any sandals and I refuse to wear flip flops. So an old pair of Crocs was what I had with me recently, as my ten-year old wanted to go shell collecting in a Wisconsin river.
The shells that were available, at the sandy bottom of a cold and shallow stream, were little spirals that resemble colorful points. They were gray and brown and white, and completely lacked any sort of vibrancy. But they were shells, and my daughter wanted to look for them at the bottom of the river. I’m grateful that she’s still in such a place in her life, because she won’t be for very long.
She couldn’t just go down to the river on her own. There’s no real risk of a current or being swept away or anything like that, but the days of a kid just wandering off from an adult’s view are long past. I agreed to go with her, and as she scoured the water, collecting her precious finds, it occurred to me that childhood is really a great time in a person’s life.
Children don’t really know how good they have it. They want to be like the older kids and, eventually, like the adults, and they’re like a loaf of bread that wants to hurry its own baking process along. But once they reach the state of being baked, there’s nothing more to do but sit around getting stale, or eventually get either consumed or thrown away. If you’re a loaf of bread, there is no happy ending for you.
But to the baker, who assembled the bread dough and then put it into the oven to bake, it’s another story. The bread smells good when it’s baking, and there’s a sense of satisfaction that you did what you needed to do in order to make that happen. So sitting on a little metallic dock, and watching my daughter’s hunt for little shells, felt a bit like waiting for bread to bake. And I would like to think that I’ll remember it always.
But back to the Crocs for a moment. The haul of shells–the plunder taken from the river–reached forty, thanks to my daughter’s dedication to the task. She gave them to me for safekeeping, but they were more than even my hands could hold. It was made very clear to me that the shells were not to be lost, however. These were the results of her labors, and she wanted to take them home with her. I promised her they’d be safe, and I instinctively removed one of my Crocs to put the shells inside.
When it came time to leave, I walked along with one hand holding hers, and the other carrying the treasured cargo. I smiled at the thought of turning an unusual shoe into a storage container, and decided that wherever she goes, and whatever she does, I’ll be there, ready to do what I can to help her along. That’s what being a parent is, after all.