As our family walks through the mall, my husband and I joke that these are the boots we will buy for our daughter when she goes on her first date.  Or perhaps we’ll buy her a pair with even pointier spikes, like the ones pictured on these yellow shoes. 

                We jest that the yellow shoes are much too dainty for our purposes.  We want boots that clearly say, “Don’t mess with me.”  We want our daughter to know she has the power to say, “No,” even when her words fall on deaf ears.  And we want the boy to know that if he doesn’t listen to our daughter’s words, he’ll feel her actions. 

               My daughter loves this idea.  She starts to fantasize about kicking a few of the boys in her grade.  Like the good helicopter parents that we are (hover, hover), we have a little talk about using words, the benefits of non-violence, and when, as a last resort, she should use physical force to defend herself.  

Then I start to worry about kids actually buying these boots.  After all, I see these kinds of boots and shoes for sale in nearly half the clothing stores in the mall.  Someone’s got to be buying them.  I think about all the kids with poor impulse control.  Yikes.  Our school has a no-weapons policy, but I’m pretty sure no one thought to put spiky boots on the list of banned items.  I make a note to myself to call our elementary school in the morning.  (I cross off the note the next day, hoping someone else will make the dreaded call.)  I wonder if, as a society, we have to reclassify shoes sellers as weapons dealers.  Perhaps a spiky boot purchaser should be required to endure a ten day wait period and undergo a psychiatric evaluation -- unless of course, she’s our daughter going on her first date.  Then the rules don’t apply. 

               As we walk through the mall and our daughter continues to beg for those boots, my husband and I chuckle, “When you go on your first date.”  Unfortunately, that quip starts to backfire on us.  The third time I say it, I see my eleven-year-old daughter go deep into thought.  She is trying to determine the soonest possible moment when she can go on that first date.  Eegads, I think, why is everything we say as parents spun and reinterpreted in ways we never intended?! I immediately clarify, “MAYBE we’ll get you those boots.  But you’re not going on dates anytime soon.  By the time you actually get to go on a date, those boots will probably be so far out of style, they won’t even be made anymore.”  Hmph.  My daughter gives me a look that says she wishes she were wearing those boots right at that very instant. 

Since the day our daughter was born, my husband has joked that he will carry a shot gun to the front door to greet every boy who comes a-courting.  At least, I think he’s been joking.  Fathers are very protective of their little girls, especially when it comes to boys.  After all, my husband was a boy once too.  He knows how they think.  Usually in our house, we’re all about peaceful conflict resolution.  My husband has never owned a gun, but somehow the thought of our daughter going on a date inspires him to get one.  I’m thinking, instead of getting a gun, perhaps he ought to get himself a pair of those boots.  Surely, if he wore those to the front door, the message would be loud and clear.  In fact, the message may be a bit clearer.  Every smart boy knows that a smart father wouldn’t in fact kill a boy, for it would send the father to prison for life -- but beating someone to a bloody pulp, surely not as serious an offense.  The thought of being pummeled with spiky boots might actually make a boy think twice. 

“Speak softly and carry a big stick,” said Teddy Roosevelt, quoting a West African proverb. Boys try to use this tactic all the time with girls (no pun intended.)  Someday it may be my daughter’s turn to use that proverb in return.  Like the wise Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid taught, you learn Karate so you don’t have to fight.  We fantasize that if our daughter wears these boots, she won’t need to use them.  We also hope that she has the good sense to keep her proverbial boots on.