I’m in the sneaker aisle. I’m a bad mom.  I let the boy play in puddles and now he has no shoes for school.

“You really should get him a second pair of shoes.” I know. I hate shopping. I go into the store, I get stressed about the choices, how much I hate fashion, and leave.

All Declan’s back up clothes are too small. He grew–it’s what kids do when we turn our heads. Grow, or sneak candy.

I knew he’d be drenched. A good mom would’ve said, “You come in here this instant!”

I’m not a good mom. I took the word of a seven-year old who promised he wouldn’t get wet in downpour while he jumped in puddles in his only pair of shoes. He was having fun. No puddle ever killed a kid. It probably saved a few brain cells that would’ve died during an hour of video games.

Kids are cooped up all winter, no outdoor recess, no running around. Half the kids I teach live in cities where you can’t really go out and play by yourself when you’re seven, and moms have to cook dinner, do boring mom things and relax after a hard day’s work or momming.

No one gets to play anymore.

If he wants to ride his scooter and puddle jump in the rain, so be it.

The shoes didn’t dry this time, like the time he needed to play in the mud and I put them by the wood stove for a few hours.

“Why is your son absent?” I pictured the 8:30 attendance call.

“He has no shoes to wear.” That call would be a disaster. I put the shoes in the drier where they sounded like point-blank gunshots all night–the price of my bad parenting.

Procrastination, the enemy of progress, had knocked at my door.

In an age where Amazon lets me push a button and requisition things to my door with just a moment of prior planning, procrastination takes on a whole new level of shame.

And so I find myself in the sneaker aisle, trying to pick out something His Royal Highness, Sir Picky, will wear.

It comes down to two pairs of shoes. I’ve eliminated the cool sneakers with the video game on the side. That’d get me less points in school than, “My son has no shoes.”

I’ve got to make a decision. The velcro or the laces. I know which one he’d want–the easy ones. I know what I should buy–the laces. He still can’t tie his shoes. We fight, we argue. He can defeat twenty zombies at a time with an eighty-knob controller but can’t make the loop go around the bunny ear?

I have to do the right thing.  I get the lace shoes. I’m proud. I’ve been a good, strong mom. Until it’s time to practice tying.

He likes them. He says, “Oh, my friend has these shoes.” Of course he does. They’re on the sale rack. Everyone’s mom had those same two choices. If the shoes are cool, maybe Declan can learn to tie.

“I don’t need to tie them, Mom,” he says. “I just put my foot in and out like this.” The shoes stay perpetually tied in the first knots I’ve made. He’s avoided another life skill, learning to get around the system instead.

I’ve been defeated like the zombie in the video game, because that’s what kids do. Outwit bad moms. Someday I hope he’ll outwit a bad boss or a bad system and make the world a better place.

For the time being, he can go and play in the rain.