This post was originally written in September 2019, when my twins began kindergarten, and then was forgotten. I’m publishing it today because I just found it. And because I love it. PS, my twins are in their last week of third grade now – and are about to bust out of their shoes again.
Their legs. Four long legs, still hanging on to a tiny remnant of baby fat that only I can see. Legs that used to wobble as they learned to walk away from me. Bug bites. Some new and swollen, some old and scabbed. Old scars. I know every single scar and can tell you how and when each one occurred. One misshapen toe from an extreme injury involving a rock. A few tiny moles… which I have memorized, in order to make tick-checks go faster. Tan lines across their thighs from their shorts, while playing on the beach and at the lake and in the driveway all summer. Those thighs that I used to squeeze when they were babies just to get belly laughs out of them. Blisters on the bottoms of their toes from the cement in the pool. Blisters on the backs of their heels from wearing Crocs that are too small. Their rough knees, reminding me that I need to teach them better about lotion. Toenails that are broken and slightly jagged, from rough play, from climbing, from dragging their feet, from asphalt and bike crashes… and a momma who hates to cut nails. And the soles of their feet. Oh, how I love those soles! Blackened from a summer of being barefoot. Rough. Calloused already, at age five.
And their hands … still young enough to have a whisper of the indented knuckles of toddlerdom. Still young enough to be slightly puffed and fat on the backs of their hands. How can they be old enough for kindergarten if they still have indented knuckles?!
Those beat-up legs represent all the freedom they have had during their childhood. When they were born, their legs were pristine. Had never touched the floor or been scarred. Then they learned to run and never stopped. Now, with hundreds and hundreds of days of momma insisting they play outside no matter what the weather, their legs are marked. With hundreds and hundreds of days of momma *not* insisting that they wear shoes, their feet are marked. I like it when they connect with the earth. I swear it makes them more well-behaved. More alert. More something. (Montessori method states that all children, no matter how young, need to connect their skin to the ground.) Also, more likely to have an extreme toe injury involving a rock.
Those beautifully marred four legs just walked into school for the first time. They walked away from me. On their own feet. My husband still marvels, “Sometimes, I still can’t get over the fact they can propel themselves.” And now, they have propelled themselves into the outside world.
The outside world is going to make those legs more uniform. More clean. More formulaic. They are going to have to fit into a certain box. They are going to have to keep those legs still under desks, covered up in nice clean clothes. The bug bites will disappear. The scars and tan lines will fade. The blisters and scabs will heal. Their childhood, their freedom, is now being reigned in. The soles of their feet will stay clean and the callouses will thin. They won’t be barefoot anymore.
The night before school starts, as he tries on his new school shoes, Twin A says abruptly with alarm, “So we’re gonna have to wear shoes ALL DAY now?!!!”
I sigh. Suddenly, I desperately want to homeschool them. I want their legs to be free. And dirty. And scabbed. And moving. I feel like I might cry.
“Yes,” I whisper. “You will.”