I think one of my kids is a sneakerhead-in-training. It might be a very expensive decade

OPINION: My shoes already cost too much money. What if I have to buy TWO pairs of all of them?

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Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

I recently wrote about Disney’s foray into sneaker culture with its latest live-action musical, Sneakerella. It’s a fun movie, enough so that my 7- and 6-year-olds sat down and watched the whole thing. That’s really the mark of a good movie: Does it hold the attention of kids? 

Well, the next morning, while getting ready for school, my 7-year-old told my wife that he was a sneakerhead. This was while he was trying to decide what shoes to put on to go to school; my wife was trying to get him to move faster; he was making what amounted to a significant decision for his day. And I completely understand it. That’s one of the major tenets of being a sneakerhead—the struggle to decide which kicks you’re going to wear for the day (unless you woke up knowing and you have to find clothes that match them).

Admittedly, that statement brought me much joy. As a person who buys way more shoes than I’ll probably ever get around to wearing and who has a style and aesthetic that I have cultivated over the years, it’s funny to see my kid at 7 get to where I am at 42. We’re doing alright in life, I guess. My daughter is in her Doc Marten’s phase and enjoys a nice Air Force 1 or Chuck Taylor, but the 7-year-old, well, he’s a little different. 

For one, he wants new shoes all of the time. If we get in the car and we’re not going to school, he wants to know if we’re going to get him some shoes. I think it’s because of how many pairs of shoes he’s seen me bring into the house. Shoot, when I get a new pair of shoes, he is always disappointed that he doesn’t have new shoes AND he tells his mother that “daddy got new shoes, it’s not fair!” I think the kid has an itch. If he would keep his shoes clean, I might get him more, but don’t tell him that. He loves shoe stores, and when we go to the mall, he immediately wants to hit the shoe stores. Now, he doesn’t know anything about exclusives; he just wants…shoes. 

And he has his own style. In fact, I won’t just buy him a pair of shoes at this point. I’ve learned his proclivities so I could probably get him shoes that he’d like, but he definitely has told me, “Daddy, I don’t like those” on occasion. When he goes into shoe stores, he looks carefully at all the shoes and decides on a pair. It’s so interesting and curious. Like I’m already wondering if he’ll have really early sneaker memories of the shoes he liked most. It’s very cool to watch. 

At this point, he probably has 10 or 11 pairs of wearable shoes. All he’s picked out, some are replacements for shoes he’s worn so much that he’s worn the soles down to tractionless rubber. But he has a penchant for Adidas. He seems to always gravitate towards the racks of shoes with Adidas. When we pull up shoes online, he already knows the Adidas app on my phone and goes there first to look for shoes. 

Thankfully, right now his shoes are pretty inexpensive. There’s an asterisk on that though; the other day, we were at the mall and he picked up a pair of red Air Max 270s. Until I looked at the price tag, I was all in. The price? $110 for YOUTH SIZES. I told them they were too much even though I know I’d drop $180 bucks on a pair of shoes in a heartbeat. I told him when he gets bigger and his shoe size is more stable we can load up on as many shoes as he wants but for now, we need to be more frugal. I felt bad saying it, but I also didn’t want to spend $110 for some shoes he was going to destroy and/or grow out of in two weeks. 

I look forward to this being a hobby that we bond over. I’m sure at some point, he (and his brothers) are going to dig into my shoe stash and pull out and put on some shoes that I will be upset about, but the fact that I know it’s coming gives me some joy. As an ardent and active member of the sneakerhead community, I am excited about having conversations with my kids about the latest drops and what shoes are overhyped and questioning why people are going banoodles over Nike Dunks because I still don’t get it. And I even look forward to shelling out the hundreds of dollars on whatever shoes are supremely popular in the next 5 to 10 years so my kids can all be the kids at school with the fresh kicks. 

It will be costly, but it will also be priceless. And that’s what life is all about.

Panama Jackson theGrio.com

 Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest) but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said “Unknown” (Blackest).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download here.

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