South African kids love to go barefoot. It’s not a symptom of poverty per se, at least not in the case of the children I have in mind. They have shoes, but often prefer not to wear them. One child in Pickle’s class last year refused to wear shoes or socks. Even on frosty mornings, he would STILL get his toes out.
Pickle generally kicks his shoes and socks off as soon as he sprints through the classroom door, a custom he has adopted since being here. We’ve had splinters, bites, a wasp sting (but surprisingly no tears) and a couple of incidences where a big chuck of fleshy toe has been scraped or bumped clear off. I’m going to buy shares in Elastoplast.
Sadly though, I am but a poor substitute for Doctor Grandma (Grandma is an actual real doctor, but England is just a bit too far away for spontaneous consultations). However, I have now been awarded the lesser title of Special Nurse. In the absence of qualified medical practitioners I am reluctantly permitted to inspect and possibly treat any wounds with varying degrees of cooperation from the patients.
Another result of all this barefooted-ness is the loss of shoes. When we are out in public we have a rule that the kids have to leave any discarded footwear with us while they play. However at school, it’s beyond my control and I am a regular visitor to the lost property box.
I knew that pair number 3 had gone missing at pick up time when Pickle’s teacher quickly arranged her face into an apology when she saw me approaching. Losing this third pair of shoes in as many weeks, would mean that the only footwear Pickle still owned was a flimsy pair of flip-flops and wellies that were way too-small.
I wasn’t happy.
Pickle: “Don’t worry mum, I know where they are.”
Me: “Where are they?”
Pickle: “They’re on the top field.”
Me: “Where on the top field?”
Pickle: “In a tree.”
Me: “In a TREE?”
He hesitates, eyes down cast, I suspect to hide his amusement, then continues:
“Yes Mummy, it’s a thorn tree.” Oh he looks very pleased with himself.
Clearly it was my lucky day, only 4 inch thorns and a climbing frame stood between me and a successful shoe retrieval mission.