by Pauline Fraser

       We ducked into the dimly lit thrift shop to get out of the rain.
       Like so many things since our daughter's birth, I hadn't planned
on a trip to this place.  But I figured we'd see what they had since
we were there.

       "Hi, today is stuff a bag day.  Would you like one?" the clerk asked.
       "What is stuff a bag day?"
       "You take a bag and stuff it with what ever you want and it's
only $3.  Best deal in town."

       "Okay, sounds great," I said, despite the fact I hadn't planned
on buying anything.

       I took my six-year-old daughter's hand and we started to wander
around.  Suddenly there was a tug on my hand and my attention was
being directed to the shoe section.

       She shares my weakness for shoes, so we stopped for a minute to
look.  I let go of her hand and she reached out to touch a pair of
shiny black shoes with a strap and silver buckle.
       "Buy me?" she inquires.

       "Oh, Sweetie, they are tap shoes.  You aren't taking tap."
       "Buy me?" she repeats.
       "Well, let's try them on."

       She sits on the floor and removes her bright pink rain boots,
with Barbie on the sides, and easily slides the new shoes on.  A
perfect fit.  When she stands up she hears "click."  She takes a
step.  Click, click.

       Slowly recognition dawns, as she makes the connection between
the shoes and her moving feet.  Click, click, click.
       "Buy me?" with a hopeful look in her eyes.  Again, "Buy me, peas?"
       "Okay Sweetie, take them off and put them in the bag."
       We look around some more and get a few t-shirts, pants, books
and games and a naked baby doll.
       Well, it's stuff a bag day -- might as well get my money's
worth, I think to myself.

       The sun has come back out as we emerge from our little side trip
and we continue on our way.  As we near the car, Amara reaches for
the bag.  As she climbs into the back seat, I give her the bag
wondering what treasure she is looking for.  The shoes, of course.
She is my daughter after all.

  "My wear."
 It's not a question, so I took the tag off and helped her with
the buckle.  Our next stop was the grocery store and these shoes were
made to make noise, especially on my little girl's feet.  This could
be interesting...

       Click, click, click -- people turn to look as we enter the store.
       Click, click, click.  I can feel the disapproving stares of the
proper people.  People who would never allow their daughter to wear
tap shoes to the grocery store.  I hold my head up with pride.  The
click, click, click is music to my ears.

       "Excuse me dear.  Is your daughter in tap this year?"
       "Well why on earth would you allow her to wear tap shoes, here,
of all places?  They make such a noise."
       "Yes, isn't it wonderful?"
       "Wonderful?  My dear, this is not the place to wear those shoes."
       "Oh, I think this is the perfect place to wear them.  You see
she asked for them."
       "Just because she asked for them, doesn't mean you have to get
them for her."

       "You don't understand," I said.  "When she was a baby, we were
told she would never walk or talk.  It has taken a lot of hard work
and patience but she ASKED for the shoes and the click, click, click
says that she CAN walk."

       My daughter, the one who never stays still, or quiet, will
graduate from grade twelve next year.  It has not always been easy,
but it has all been worthwhile.
       She has taught me that it doesn't matter what others think.

They don't walk in your shoes.
       And just like the ladies in the purple hats, sometimes you
simply have to wear tap shoes to the grocery store -- if for nothing
else, just for the sheer joy of hearing the click, click, click