Are you a shoes-on or shoes-off
person? Ruth Shaw has a theory about bare feet and adventure.
Ruth and her partner, Lance, run Fiordland Ecology Holidays
in Manapouri and have been taking families out on their
charter yacht for years.
"The families we've had on board…..
the type that take their children around the world, they
just have a totally different attitude to life. My own daughter
in law, there is no way she'd have done that with my grandchildren,
much as I'd have liked her to, there is no way. She lives
in Wellington and they wear shoes all the time. Whereas
the families we've had on board have that wonderful outlook
on life, they are so different, we just have to nurture
them." Ruth says helping shoes-on families get their shoes
off is a challenging business, "The parents haven't walked
in the grass with bare feet so why would their children?
We need to encourage these parents to get their children
and themselves back to nature."
Whose feet are these?
The Family on a Bike has definitely
got shoes-off kids. It was only after speaking to Ruth that
we noticed our own children rarely have them on. Once a
playground is spotted, even before buggy wheels stop turning,
Matthew and Cameron cry out with excitement as they slip
off their shoes and tug on their socks. As they run from
the buggies they fling their footwear down and never look
back. Some days we barely manage to get boys matched up
with shoes at all. Climbing like monkeys, each rung of the
slide is negotiated with expert toes; puddles and waves
are jumped in with abandon, feet squelching through sand
Interested in the connection between
shoes and attitude to life, we asked Matthew why he likes
to take off his shoes, "Because I like to feel the ground
there and see if it's hard or not hard. When it's soft inside
houses and soft inside tents it makes my feet feel very
squashy and I squash down like a squishy thermarest rolling
up. It's fun, I like to take my shoes off."
like to feel the ground"
As usual Cameron had his own firm opinion
on why he likes to go barefoot, "Because I didn't like shoes
on. They stupid and filthy."
"I didn't like shoes on"
The boys' shoe freedom looks so
liberating that we've taken to kicking our own sweaty boots
off more often. But we fear bare feet will eventually cause
us problems. We're not worried about the children catching
a cold or hurting themselves but that shoes will get left
behind. Just yesterday we cycled away from a campsite without
a final shoe check. Fortunately Stuart glanced back at the
trampoline on the way out to see four dirty socks leading
the way to four abandoned shoes. We picked them up and stored
them in the buggy for a rainy day.
What will you do with your shoes