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Published: October 30th 2011
Every parent thinks their child is a genius. If I had a nickel for every time I heard a new mom or dad say, "Look at little Johnny and how alert he is. He's so smart! Look how he stares at his toys. He's so smart! Look how he screams when I leave the room. He's so smart!" All of us forced to listen nod our heads in agreement. Its an unwritten, yet all together well known rule of thumb that you never contradict a proud parent gloating about their baby's beauty or brilliance. We all agree and then compliment little Johnny's outfit.
My daughter must of had her outfit complimented quite a bit because I was one of those
parents. This chubby, bald, screaming, insomniac of a baby really was the most beautiful and brilliant child born to mankind in my eyes and I just knew my little angel would grow up with a passion for traveling and an insatiable desire to see and experience every nook and cranny of this planet. The way a mother is convinced playing classical music for her unborn baby will turn him into a concert violinist, I was sure all my hours pouring
over National Geographic and listening to Ricky Martin would produce a Spanish speaking globe trotter.
With my screaming baby now 8 years old, now is a good time to test the waters. Before undertaking something big (and expensive) I thought I'd try something easier and closer to home.
"How about us girls driving to Chicago? You can bring your best friend," I suggest.
"Really?!" she says, "Just the three of us?"
"Yup. We'll stay at a nice hotel and see all the famous stuff of Chicago."
"Like the American Girl Doll store!!?"
"Well, sure. We'll take a look but we're not buying anything...
," I say.
I really hyped up this trip. The fancy hotel on Michigan Avenue, the Ferris wheel on Navy Pier, Shedd's Aquarium, The Bean!
"Ok girls, let's go. We've got a full itinerary and only two days. Put on your best walking shoes!"
After checking in the hotel and the mandatory jumping on the bed and "OHMYGOD look how high up we are!!!" it was time to start pounding the pavement. "Can we just order a pizza here and go swimming mom?" my daughter asked. "What?! No! We can do that later!
We're going to walk to Navy Pier. You'll love it!"
A mile and a half later I can see my daughter India is wincing while she walks. She knows my rule about no complaining when traveling so she keeps quiet. "India, are you sure you're ok?" I ask. "Yeah, I'm just not used to walking so much."
The kids loved Navy Pier. Whatever was bothering India she seemed to forget about. They rode the swings, the Ferris wheel, ate cotton candy, ice cream and french fries til they could pop. After several hours and going through a sufficient amount of funds it was time to call it a night.
"Can we just take a taxi back to the hotel mom?" India asks.
"A taxi!? No! Its a nice evening, we'll walk. Besides, you can see more by walking than riding in a car."
India starts to get teary eyed. "India, don't fall apart on me now! This is our first day. Please don't act dramatic like you can't walk. Remember my first travel rule?"
"Yes, mom, I remember. Its no complaining."
"Exactly! So cheer up and let's enjoy the walk back."
dries up the tears and we march onward. Its a perfect evening. I'm in beautiful Chicago with my daughter feeling proud that I'm molding her into a future independent traveler who's company everyone will enjoy because she has learned to not complain...
Then the full blown meltdown happens. India burst into tears. "Mom! I cannot walk anymore! I can't!"
I look at her feet and see she's wearing regular tennis shoes. They look nice, almost new actually, but now that I think about it, they don't look familiar.
"Mom, my feet at KILLING me," India finally declares.
"I told you to wear your best walking shoes. Are those your best shoes?"
"Yes! These are my best shoes mom! I wore them in gym class in the second grade!"
"In the SECOND grade??? India!!! You're in the FOURTH grade!!!"
"Well, mom," she said through sobs, "You said bring my best shoes and I remember loving these shoes in second grade."
"But that was two years ago honey!"
"Yeah...they're too small now," she admits.
"I bet they are!" Gosh, I feel guilty now. She's been walking miles in shoes two sizes too
small. No wonder she's been cranky.
"Alright India, let's just make it back to the hotel and in the morning I'll have to figure out where I can get you some new shoes."
The next morning we stood at the doors of Niketown on Michigan Avenue waiting for the store to open. Not wanting to waste any of our day shopping, we head up to the third floor and India picks out a pair of hot pink, full retail priced, perfectly sized Nike's. She wears them out of the store and on the way out throws her old ones in a recycle bin.
Now we're ready to take on Chicago. We walk. We take taxis. We eat hot dogs. We lick ice cream cones. We see the aquarium, the river front. We take pictures. We laugh. We travel.
Turns out, all a girl needs is new pair of shoes.
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