Skip to content

the pink plastic heels

2013 February 19
by Rachel Turiel


So, Rose has these pink plastic high heels that she scored in a trade with a friend for her nice homemade hippie necklace. There are so many things I dislike about these heels:

* the sound of them clack clack clacking on the tile floors.

* that they seem engineered for ankle-twisting.

* what is a 5-year old doing in heels, anyway?

* pink plastic.

Does Rose know how I feel about pink plastic heels? Oh no, outwardly I am neutral. As educator and author Barbara Coloroso says in the amazing book, Kids Are Worth It: “if the situation is neither life threatening, morally threatening, nor unhealthy, stay out of it and let nature take its course.” Check.

And, as my wise and beloved friend Natalie (who inspired this post with her post) says: “high up on my Most Important Rules Ever list is to not comment on my children’s appearances. I am not going to impose my own opinions on them, triggering a lifetime of concern over how others think they look.” Check.

And most importantly, I keep quiet because wearing hot-pink plastic heels brings Rose some sort of crazy wild happiness that is out of my mom-sphere of comprehension.

Last week Rose was in “star room” (where she and Col sleep) having quiet time, and I hear the click-a-clack of the heels. I groan inwardly: damn heels. Then I hear: click, clack, click, clack…CRASH (the sound of a body hitting the floor). I listen for tears and hearing nothing, peek my head in to find Rose in her reading chair, slightly disheveled, reading books to a small assemblage of stuffed animals, legs crossed and the pink heels back on her feet, looking at me like, “um, didya need something?”

And suddenly, I am amused. She loves these shoes so much that even after falling she put them back on. She’s probably never seen anyone outside of airports even wearing heels, and yet, she feels free to choose her own path. Where I see heels as some bizarre, hazardous contraption, I think Rose sees herself as…a fabulous teacher!

Since then, the shoes just make me smile (mostly). Now I’m working on smiling over the elastic-waist, plaid-cuffed golf pants that Col likes to set aside for special, fancy occasions.


2010; These particular heels have since fallen apart, but it’s been a long-standing love.

What does your child wear/play with that you grit your teeth over?

*Also, I think it is worth noting that this post also describes “writer’s mind:” getting out of the way of your own judgments and opinions to truly see what is there. What a beautiful thing.


31 Responses leave one →
  1. Sara Parks permalink
    February 19, 2013

    Ha! A very large, noisy, neon green and orange machine gun.

  2. Michele permalink
    February 19, 2013

    Also the heels! The clicking drives me nuts. When mine collapses on the floor there is a moment of silence and then she yells “I’m OK!”. Oiy.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 19, 2013

      When mine collapses on the floor there is a moment of silence and then she yells “I’m OK!”

      *cracking up over that*

  3. teresa permalink
    February 19, 2013

    we also have a pair of heels in our house! z used to crawl into the back of my closet and pull out the one pair that i had from my wedding. then, this year, santa was asked for a pair of glass slippers ala cinderella. sigh. santa does not like to disappoint! he balanced it with a home made cinderella dress… but clear plastic heels were there as well. she loves them. wears them all the time.
    i agree fully that it is so important to keep my hippie/punk ideals to myself and let her be a princess if that is what she chooses!
    such a great reminder that they are not ours to mold… we simply have the honor of caring for them as they grow and bloom.

  4. February 19, 2013

    pink plastic heels! i am so comforted to know that you are also wearing down your molars over them. yeah, fern has them too, as well as five tutus (who doesn’t love a good tutu tho?) and every day she announces “i’m going to dress up fancy”. and just like rose, i have no idea where she has ever seen anyone dress in this way…certainly not from her mama.

    i wrote a whole post on princessification a while back…i’m on the alert for the absorption of healthy body image or feminine ideals. but in the meantime, i’m with you…it gives her joy and she feels powerful, so i keep out of it.

  5. Andrea permalink
    February 19, 2013

    Well, its a struggle to get my guy to wear shoes. period.

    Nurture thier Nature, right?!

  6. February 19, 2013

    What a wonderful post!

    It seems my kids have often chosen to play with (or passionately learn about) what appalls me. When we lived in the suburbs I used to drag them in the house when a truck arrived to spray chemicals on neighbors’ lawns. My kids would go inside only to happily run around with a stuffed snake as their sprayer, squirting imaginary poisons all over. I grimaced with the irony.

    One more example. I’ve spent years teaching non-violence classes. One of my kids became completely entranced by fighter planes when he was about 8. I found myself checking out piles of books and documentaries from the library, week after week, on the history of aerial warfare. That phase passed, but of course not until I was on the phone arranging a workshop on pacifism throughout history while in the distance the sound of bombs dropping could clearly be heard.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 19, 2013

      My son, who is an emerging reader, knows exactly where to go at our library to find books on fighter jets and military war ships. He draws these instruments of destruction with beautiful accuracy and passion. And surprisingly, I’ve found myself interested in the books I read to him about, say, the first iron-sided warships of the Civil War.

      But still. I’m rooting for the nature-loving side of him to prevail.

  7. Molly permalink
    February 19, 2013

    Somewhere in my closet is a pair of silver sparkle non-spiky heels I bought at the thrift store for Lucinda to use at dress up. I “lost” them in there, i.e. I don’t really want to hand them over because they will end her childhood. She has a bag of cherished fancy barrettes from her grandma, and an assortment of glittery nail polishes from her aunt. She has a silk scarf in the colors of the rainbow. She enjoys using a sugar scrub and has begun to be convinced that hair washing is an important part of having soft, shiny hair. She noticed recently that if I wet her hair and immediately brush it it loses its waviness, so she resists this. She observes and compliments any slight change in my appearance (earrings, skirts, hair up, hair braided). She is twenty years ahead of me in noticing appearances, and attending to her own. I am hopeful that this could be useful in the future b/c I don’t actually own a full length mirror. I am hopeful that this could all be part of her seeking and getting what she wants, how she wants it, which is power, not oppression. Which is like what you said, a bit?

  8. February 19, 2013

    Ah, we once got a set of ten such shoes – 10! – that survived my tight smiles for about a month and then vanished. But, they were neither adored nor missed. Now, the dresses and the tutus and the pink pink pink pink pink are forever with us.

    I love the reminder that if it’s not threatening, let it go. There’s so much both good and bad. But most of it doesn’t require my input. (Though I stand firm on my no to “UTubing” with friends at the park – aka posting videos.)

  9. February 19, 2013

    My 20mo is a climber. The moment I turn away, she gets busy trying to mount the coffee table or jump on couch, and I ‘ve also caught her on my dining table. Tired of saying the same things, “No! Get down! Be careful!” I just teach her to climb back down carefully when she’s ready. And when she falls (and she has of course), I just kiss her boo-boos and she goes right back to it again. Sigh.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 19, 2013

      She’ll be thanking you for your trust and guidance when she’s climbing some crazy mountain in Colorado someday. xo

    • February 22, 2013

      I had the same thing with my now 3 year old. She is a climber, when we have friends visit they freak out at the things I let her climb while I hardly bat an eye, I think you become immune! but it has been so wonderful for her growth, she has the most amazing balance and hand eye coordination as a result.

  10. February 19, 2013

    I have one kid who wears his clothes backwards and/or inside out. If it were a mere matter of chance, I think he’d get the shirt on right at least 1/4 of the time, but it’s closer to 100% wrong. I ignored it for a long time, then lately I’ve been encouraging him to turn the shirts around (he is, after all, in second grade), but I haven’t made any headway, so I’ve mostly given up. Also, my kids have all three gone through a stage of wearing the same clothes day after day. At first, I was like, someone’s going to call DHHS about these neglected-looking kids, but then I decided the reduction in laundry was totally worth it. Oh, and I love that Barbara Colorosa. Someone lent me a set of tapes from her called “How to Win at Parenting without Beating your Kids.” Ha!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 19, 2013

      Lots of inside-out *and* backwards shirts here. It bothers Dan, but I try and follow Barbara Coloroso’s advice to “let nature take its course.” As in, someday they will become socially conscious enough to care, and bless them for not caring right now.

      Also, yes! about the laundry reduction. If Col wears a shirt inside out, then the next day he can turn it right side out and it’s a fresh, clean shirt!

  11. Karen permalink
    February 19, 2013

    I just got a minute to read the whole post and I cried I was laughing so hard with pure joy. I love that girl! I can just see her reading to her “class” after falling and picking herself up. Also, I think we need a picture of the golf pants.

  12. Danielle G permalink
    February 19, 2013

    I pretty much despise everything baby pink or tulle that my girls have managed to possess.

  13. Chi-An permalink
    February 19, 2013

    The heels in our house are inherited from an older cousin. They are silvery purple with purple marabou on the toes. Much loved although thankfully not worn every day…I just ask that she be careful wearing them on the stairs.

    The thing that drives me bananas is potty talk (seemingly non-stop since my elder was 3, he’s now 9). I think the only things I outright forbade were the curse words and shotgun-reloading sounds. Hm, is it obvious my kids go to an urban public school?

    I can’t remember any toys we had to ban, there are some books that were gifts that I could do without. I don’t really see how _The Princess and the Pea_ is modelling good behavior, really, and my daughter has repeatedly asked for “a bed that is more comfy”.

    Oh, and here’s a conversation that happens in our house daily:
    “Miranda, your shoes are on the wrong feet. Are they comfortable like that?”
    “Yeah, I’m ok with that.”
    Whatever. Strangers stop me in the street concerned that her feet will grow all crookedy, but her dr. has assured me it’s no problem. There are larger battles to be fought…

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 20, 2013

      I think potty talk and gun-noises are endemic to childhood, regardless of demographic. xo

    • February 22, 2013

      oh yeah, I hear ya! my 3 year says ‘oh S$%#!!!’ in context ALL the time. She heard it a few times and that was enough for it to catch on!

  14. February 19, 2013

    i am always amazed at what our girls choose to love. it takes restraint for me to embrace a hand-me-down cheetah velour track suit, a thrift store talking Dora the Explorer book or a sequins silver cap. but, i love when our girls choose what’s unique to them and what makes them feel special.
    i get the sense that Rose feels so unique in those shoes, since they’re like nothing else. I love the pictures of her smiling sideways with total fashion joy in the heels. what a cutie.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 20, 2013

      cheetah velour track suit! Oh, yes!

  15. Katie Burford permalink
    February 20, 2013

    I never got over my fetish with high heels (started with Yo-Yos, which I would defiantly sneak to school in my book bag), impractical as they may be.

  16. Diane H permalink
    February 20, 2013

    I’m reading this post and attempting to apply to our family’s current scenario. My son doesn’t want to get his hair cut. I told him fine, as long as he takes care of it. Every morning he has a tangled mass (rat’s nest is what my mom would have called it). If I don’t brush it, it doesn’t get fixed.

    I’m walking the line of caring for oneself (and how it reflects on the family) and trying not to make too much of his appearance. Frankly, I just want to cut his hair so it always looks neat.

  17. February 20, 2013

    Let’s see, we’ve survived the “Everyday at 4:00 is naked time, no matter where we are” phase – although it still pops up occasionally, just not at the grocery store anymore. We survived the wearing of summer clothes to go sledding in the winter even though I thought I had hidden them all away so that she’d dress appropriately. We survived the princess phase – although that one was tough for her dad. He was convinced Disney was targeting our child personally. We are currently living through the Taylor Swift and dress in soccer shorts, sweatpants and hoodies all the time phase. This latest one is killing me – I feel like she looks like a slob, but I bite my tongue. She does manage to dress nicely when she knows she needs to which helps. I too am afraid of reigning her in or doing damage to her self esteem, so I pretty much let her go.

    The only toy we’ve ever taken away and gotten rid of was a Bratz doll. Just no.

    • February 22, 2013

      those bratz dolls are totally scary! I would totally draw the line at that too.. I cant believe some of the things they have for kids these days, it makes pink heels almost nothing!

  18. February 21, 2013

    Oh dear. I totally get your perspective.

    And, I have this to say – It was 1979, I was five years old and mine were purple. And I absolutely *freaking* loved them. Until they broke while I was wearing them out in the yard (wink).

    And your girl planting seeds in them is really the cutest thing I’ve seen this evening. Rock on Rose!

    • February 21, 2013

      geez, did I really have to start every sentence with that?
      Ha! It’s wine thirty here, and mine kids are in bed!

  19. February 22, 2013

    such a wonderful post, I think its so important to be supportive of what your children are naturally drawn to, even if it isn’t what you had in mind. I have come to realize by observation of many parents that if you are too pushy in your beliefs your kids will often go the opposite direction.
    We actually sent emails out before our daughter was born asking to not give us certain cheap plastic toys or the ever so typical for a girl princess stuff made from china. They were a bit offended, as that family is disney obsessed, but over the years they have been pretty good at respecting our wishes. and when a plastic cheap toy has come our way I have kept it if my daughter really likes it, I suppose in this material world you almost have to have a little bit of give.

  20. February 23, 2013

    i just snuck out four pair of pink plastic heels from the dress-up trunk, today. as in, stuffed them in dark plastic, and slunk them out the back door. but they are not beloved, and rarely worn, and when they are, are always a tripping hazard. hand-me downs, from old friends.
    and now, i’m wondering…
    should i fetch them back?!

    (really, i think it’s okay. but i so love the line about “if it’s not life threatening or morally wrong…” oh, that’s a keeper.)

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: