Little feet. To say they’ve had an influence on my life since the day I was born would be inaccurate. Mom used to say while she was still carrying Twin Brother Mark and me, one of us was always kicking. She didn’t know who it was, but she could never get any sleep.
My bet is it was Mark. He was born first, and the doctor said he was kicking me the entire time. Guess being kicked in the head continuously for months before actually being born would account for a lot. Let us take a look just how little feet have followed me throughout life.
I have many fond memories of those seven magical years my three brothers, The Sister and I spent growing up at 110 Flamingo Street. I’ve often been asked which memory is my favorite. My answer has always been the same, “Little feet in big shoes.”
Me being only 5 years old, everything about our Dad was big, even his shoes. Growing up, I wanted to be just like him, so one day I slipped them on and started to walk.
Mom said my “clippity clopping” down the wood hallway in his best Sunday shoes was one of the funniest things she had ever seen. I thought I’d never be able to fill his shoes. I had no idea how right I actually was.
For most folks lying flat on their back, the size of the feet attached to the bully who currently has taken up residence on their chest isn’t important. To me, it was.
The little feet belonged to none other than Bradley McAlister, aka Down the Street Bully Brad. After knocking me off my bike, Bully Brad was sitting on my chest. It was my first day living on Flamingo and my first encounter with my soon-to-be arch nemesis.
As I tried to fend off a volley of punches, I glanced at his feet and thought, “I could outrun him if I could get up. Those little feet can’t keep up with me.” A strange thing to think about as you’re being pummeled, but then again I did get kicked in the head a lot by little feet before I was born.
My next encounter with little feet was the following year. That’s when the fire department was called for a forest fire in our backyard. Three fire trucks came screaming up Flamingo shortly after noon that Saturday. They fought our blaze for two hours before they had everything under control.
That’s when the investigation began into how it started. I learned two life lessons that day. First: when participating in an investigation, don’t be last in line. All the good lies have been told and you will be left with only the truth about the incident in question. Second: Even though it is true, no adult, especially firefighters, will believe you if you say little feet started the fire.
Unless, of course, you first tell them the little feet were attached to a Barbie doll just before you lit them on fire.
It was my first encounter with firefighters and I knew that was what I wanted to be when I grew up. Eighteen years later, my small feet finally did fill those big boots.
Finally, it’s been over 50 years since we last rode our bikes on Flamingo. My feet are no longer small, and I thought little feet were out of my life forever. That is, until Little One and Sweet Caroline, our two granddaughters, came into our lives.
Now I not only see, but also hear little feet all day and well into the night. They live in our house while The Wife and I live in our basement. A unique living arrangement to be sure, but they have some of the sweetest little feet you ever did see. Or hear.
Last night those little feet stepped into Big Papa and The Wife’s shoes. We had taken them off after a long day with the girls at the play park, hiking through the woods and feeding the ducks out at Twin Lakes. We watched and smiled as they went “clippity clopping” down the wood hallway.
After brushing their teeth, we laid our angels down in their beds and kissed them goodnight. The Wife stayed in their room rocking in the comfy rocker watching over them until they fell asleep. I left the room, gathering up our shoes off the wood floor before making my way downstairs and to the computer.
The deadline for my column was due in the morning and I finally had an idea. A story about little feet had just clippity clopped into my mind.
Author’s note: Today marks the start of the seventeenth year of this weekly column. If asked, Ms. Newsome, my 11th-grade English teacher, would say being a columnist would be shoes I’d never fill. After all I did get a D- in her class. Luckily, I don’t consider myself a columnist. I’m a storyteller.
But still, in some ways, Ms. Newsome is correct. Without the skills of The English Teacher, my editor during all these years, this column wouldn’t be fit to be read. That’s why I’m forever grateful for her skills and for still being with us. And I’m also grateful to all those kids from Flamingo whose adventures serve as the inspiration for many of the stories you read here.
A weekly storyteller — now those are some shoes I think I can fill.
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]