Shoe Shine Boy

Some people are thinking it’s cute that Nels is somehow and suddenly really into shoe shining. I mean like really into it. I mean like, a hundred-thousand-percent into it.

As in: he polished my Docs four times in as many hours. As in: before I was up this morning, he’d made a sandwich and begun plying his trade out on the curb. As in: he got a pair of his muddy and battered old Romeos, which I was on the verge of throwing out, to gleam like an ethereal elvish lake or something.

As in: you don’t want to make eye contact or he brightly asks, “Wouldya like a shine?”

Not since Kibbleland. I’m serious.

At the same time, given my daughter’s recent self-imposed exodus to all-day school, I am aware these wonderful, timeless days with my son will one day come to an end. I’m not saying my daughter is going to stay in school the whole year, or my son is going to start any time soon – just that with Phoenix’s new schedule I’m painfully aware of the fact that hey, kids move on sooner or later. I’m fortunate to have so very much awesome time with each of my kids in a home setting, and don’t think I don’t know it. Today even though I was at times aggravated at Nels’ laser-like shoeshining focus, I also felt so glad for his interest and passion which is boundless. And I’m very grateful we get to do fun stuff like this every day.

I also sent him down to the hardware store, figuring he might get some clientele down there. Oh but get this – first he walked, on his own, to the bank, and withdrew ten of his own dollars in various kinds of change. He was only at the hardware store forty minutes and he made ten dollars – most of it, donations by smiling older guys who weren’t wearing black or brown leather shoes.

Nels was impressed with how successful the venture was. But I admonished him:

“You need to do a good job, though. Because one day people won’t pay you just for being cute, or whatever. No one’s just going to give you money like that when you’re like, twelve.”

Nels smirks. “I’m nine,” he responds. I can see him doing the mental math.

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