May 11, 2012

No shirt, no shoes, no worries!

You may already know, or rightly assume, that people wear flip-flops a lot  in Hawaii. You may not know they're called slippers. Well, actually it's pronounced slippahs, but we're not local enough for that. Most people wear nice sandals or shoes on a daily basis, but slippers are more common here than on the mainland. This is the easiest fashion trend for me to see and follow along, so I've been observing what occasions warrant shoes and when it's okay to go barefoot.

I need to be careful here, since I don't want you to be picturing people walking to work in board shorts and slippers. Or that everyone goes barefoot. My goal is to highlight that there are some places here where it is culturally acceptable to take off your shoes that would not happen on the mainland.

Homes. You usually leave your shoes outside of a house before entering. Sometimes this extends to younger kids in school - our kids take them off before going into the nursery at church. Even the furniture delivery guys wear slip off shoes so they can easily take them off while entering your home.

Indoor playplaces. First of all, there aren't that many since you're supposed to be outside! There's one at the mall and a few fast food joints and they have the same rules. All the signs tell you to remove your shoes or slippers but there's no mention of wearing socks. No signs telling us to wear socks or buy them for $1. Ha ha, not here!

Outdoor play places. It's hard to run fast in slippers, so you take them off. And it doesn't matter if it's grass, cement or the play structure, you are too busy playing to notice your feet. At first I didn't like the idea of playing at the playground barefoot, but it was only gross if some kid was eating and leaving food all over the playground for the other kids to step on. Now, I feel a bit safer that my kids can climb using their feet instead of big clunky shoes. Our kids adapted to this quickly and kick off their shoes the moment we get to the playground. And they now ask to drive to the playground barefoot  and "just carry me across the street."

Not so acceptable places. It's still not normal behavior to run around barefoot wherever, but I have seen a few people in McDonalds and the grocery store without shoes. And one lady and her kids in the mall bathroom. But, with a potty training child of my own, I can understand the mad dash to the bathroom from the play place. And if you're running into the store for one thing, why not carry your child in and do your shopping without digging through the car for the tiny shoes they kicked off on the way there? Pretty sure they'll just kick them off all over the store anyway.

It is a tricky subject with riding bikes. Growing up, I was taught you must wear tennis shoes while riding a bike or else your toes will get cut off. This was always accompanied by a sob story of someone who lost their toes. It was so ingrained in me that I thought that it actually happened to someone in my family. So along with helmets, we were going to require our own kids to wear tennis shoes while riding. However, I realized that watching other kids this was pretty unrealistic. As it is, our kids wear socks maybe once a week if we go for a hike. And on the odd days as preschoolers they are asserting their fashion identity by wearing socks with sandals. Or trying to slide around on the wood floors faster. So we're picking our battle and our kids might lose a toe, but they'll be wearing helmets.

Except for the extra work of keeping up the pedicure, I do enjoy the different "shoe culture" here because:

1. I've never liked shoe shopping
2. I associate bare feet with summer fun
3. Kids have cute feet
4. Walked home barefoot after taking off my crazy heels
5. Less sock laundry
6. No need to ask "Do I take my shoes off?"
7. Less dirt in my house!
8. One less thing to buy that the kids will outgrow
9. No more "Oh no! There's a hole in my sock!"
10. You can tell where the party is at since the slippers are all outside the door

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