In some cultures, a man bonds with his son by taking him hunting. They go off into the wild, brave the elements, pitting their wits against nature, and hopefully come back triumphant with game.
Where I live there is no similar culture so how is a man to bond with his son? Perhaps by teaching him to polish his shoes….
Every man needs to know how to do this properly. Moreover, it’s a man thing; when was the last time you saw a woman polishing her shoes? It’s not that women are not capable; I suspect that it’s more likely to be a lack of interest. Having said that there are excellent shoe shiners who are in women, but I digress. So to the matter at hand.
My son is a destroyer of shoes. We have long given up on buying anything but cheap shoes for him because they last about a term. At best. This term I decided to take my own advice and to buy him two pairs of school shoes which could be worn on alternating days and gave him some advice on looking after them. So far he has been great and the shoes appear to be wearing surprisingly well.
However, it was time for the next stage, teaching him to polish his shoes. I thought about pointing him to my posts on how to Care for Your Shoes Like a Pro but thought that might undermine the whole male bonding thing.
So we spent some time this morning polishing his shoes. The details of what I taught him are essentially the same as my earlier posts. What was important was the Father–Son time. It’s hardly hunting, but it was a shared project with some clear outcomes.
Having surveyed his work he appeared to have a sense of satisfaction with his capacity to transform muddy shoes to shiny ones and wore them to school this morning with what seems to me to be a sense of pride.
It all proved short-lived, however. His shoes on his return from school this afternoon were nearly as muddy as they had been before they were polished. There might be more work to do yet….