As the mom of three boys (ages 8, 10, and 14) I consider myself lucky that I don’t have to spend gobs of money and time on nurturing their wardrobes.
I have friends with daughters whose mood often depends on whether they have the right outfit on any given day. In my testosterone-fueled world, a pair of sweats, and a sports-logo t-shirt is the standard uniform.
But recently, my boys have become fixated on having the right sneakers for every activity. There are everyday school sneakers, basketball high tops, and “dressy” kicks to only be worn on special occasions.
My oldest son, Jacob, began having unrealistic shoe-buying expectations last year, so to avoid arguing over whether spending upwards of $150 for a pair of kids sneakers was reasonable, I told him to ask for Nike gift cards for birthdays and holidays. Once my wallet was off the table, I could sit back and marvel at the absurdity of this footwear frenzy.
For weeks, the family computer had multiple windows up on Nike’s customizing page. Soon Jacob had pulled his brothers into the shoe vortex, and all three were constantly checking for new colors and designs, and readjusting their dream shoes on the Nike website. It was essential that they represent their style on the basketball court with the latest LeBrons, Jordans, or KD’s.
Jacob swears there are kids at school who spend $300 to $400 for these status symbols. Custom Nikes have become the Hermes Birkin bags of the teen boy set: outrageously expensive, rare, and coveted.
The pinnacle of our shoe adventures was Jacob’s unrelenting quest for a pair of Nike KD VI Aunt Pearl’s. Another Nike ploy is to hype up a new pair of shoes and then warn customers there will only be a finite number of pairs sold, so demand is off the charts.
Kevin Durant was inseparable with his late Aunt Pearl who passed away from lung cancer in 2000, the Nike website says. The floral motif on the shoe is similar to the pattern on a robe that Aunt Pearl often wore. For the life of me, I’ll never understand why a boy would think these shoes are cool.
Nike is always releasing new collectible shoes –often via social media– and jokers like my otherwise intelligent son jump through basketball hoops to get them.
The Aunt Pearls were going on sale on a Thursday at 6pm and Jacob had a basketball playoff game at the same time. Instead of giving up, he somehow enlisted one of his minions (that’s me) to jockey for him.
He wrote down a list of detailed instructions. He set a timer so I would be on the computer at least 10 minutes before 6pm. He opened his Nike account and entered all the payment and shipping information so none of that would slow me down. He was so worked up, I actually got nervous about whether I could pull off buying this spectacular pair of shoes.
At 5:55pm I was at the computer, trolling Nike’s Twitter feed, waiting for the announcement with the link to buy the shoes. I did everything I was supposed to do and then I waited…..and waited….and waited.
Anxiously staring at the screen reminded me of the old days when I’d wait on hold forever, trying to get concert tickets by phone. Although a pink swoosh stamped on leather sneakers did not seem nearly as motivating as a magical night hearing Bruce belt out “Jungleland.”
But something about the experience was amusing, and I was kind of proud of Jacob’s tenacity. But alas, after about 20 minutes of staring, we got this screen….
And just like that, the dream of Aunt Pearl was gone.
Now Jacob is regularly cruising eBay, negotiating shoe trades for unusual designs. He swears the shoes he’s buying have never been worn, but he’s sold some of his old shoes to fools looking for discontinued styles.
It’s good you can only see merchandise online. If prospective buyers could smell his used shoes, he wouldn’t make a dime.
Do your kids have a crazy retail obsession? Commiserate in the comments.