I love the summer. Kids' shoes are so reasonable then. You can go into a shop, buy a pair of sandals and have enough change from a twenty for tea, lunch for two and icecreams all round. Not so in the winter. If you want decent footwear, in leather, you'll be lucky to get away with anything shy of fifty quid. And they are so small these pesky shoes - surely the smaller the size, the less it costs, no? No.
And they have you by the you-know-whats in the shop. Here is your precious little boy who you want the very best for. His tiny feet are newly formed and growing and need to be encased carefully, with room to breathe and expand, somewhere warm and watertight. You can't buy him any old cheap rip-off from Primark. Basically you need a pair of shoes that doesn't make you look like a bad parent, and that costs big bucks.
I was admiring another little girl's pink leather boots at playgroup this week and her mother admitted, in wincing tones, that they "cost a fortune". Turns out she didn't think to look at the pricetag until she got to the till when her daughter, pleased as punch, already had them on. "I don't spend that on my own shoes," she told me grimacing at the memory.
Another friend found the shoes she wanted for her two-year-old son but did a quick u-turn on finding out the cost, managing to back out of the shop empty handed while mumbling excuses about her husband having the family credit card. What tosh - her credit card was tucked safely in her wallet but she was going to need a quick lie down or a strong drink at the very least before she was going to wrack up such an enormous bill for such a teeny tiny pair of shoes.
It seems this kind of trauma is not a new thing for parents. My mum said she always found going shoe shopping something of an ordeal. She would go into the store with a perfectly normal child and leave with a freak of nature whose feet must never see the light of day for fear of scaring others. The shop assistant would take one look at me, take a sharp intake of breath and shake her head. "Your daughter has very wide feet at the front but very narrow heels at the back." In comparison to what? For the record, my feet are perfectly normal - what they didn't do was fit in with their company's idea of what a foot should be like, but who does? Goodness knows what my grandma did with my aunt, who has six toes on one foot. I know, six toes - how cool is that?
Anyway, I plucked up the courage to take the little man winter shoe shopping yesterday. He was very good while he had his feet measured, I found the perfect pair of navy leather shoes, steeled myself to spend the £42 it was going to cost to take them away, and they were out of stock. Typical.