Saying goodbye to summer feet

We are just coming down from a beautiful, sunny summer here in Portland. But along with the return of school and pumpkin spiced everything, the rains are back. Luckily, fall is my favorite time of the year, so I welcome the change of season—but I’m sad to say goodbye to summer feet.

You know, summer feet: When your soles harden from climbing trees and playing chase and walking around barefoot. Or maybe it’s been so long since you cultivated your childhood summer feet that you’ve forgotten.

My girls are definitely familiar. But just as their soles have toughened up after a summer of outdoor play, this fall, we bid goodbye to summer feet.

Kids going barefoot embody the carefree spirit of childhood. Saying goodbye to summer feet—and to summer—is bittersweet. Ten Thousand Hour Mama
Photo by Diana Feil

A lifetime of summer feet

Peeper spent every moment she could barefoot. From the very first sunny day when I took off her baby booties and let her feel the grass under her feet, she has lived to go shoeless. (Kiwi, on the other hand, hated the feeling of grass under her. She insisted on shoes outside when she was learning to walk; even before that, she disliked crawling with her hands on the lawn.)

I have given up on trying to keep shoes on 4-year-old Peeper. So while we gardened or sought a cooling breeze this summer, she wandered the yard and the space in front of our house barefoot.

Seeing her pad around with no shoes reminded me of when I was a kid. In elementary school I used to pride myself on my summer feet, which meant I could roam the neighborhood and ride my bike with no shoes on. (It also meant I had to suffer a sterilized needle when my mom dug out splinters. Ouch.)

As Peeper climbed the maple tree in our front yard, her monkey feet curving around the lowest branches as she pulled herself higher, I thought of her little feet when she was born.

I remember hardly bearing to part with her while the nurses bathed her and stamped her itty bitty feet.

I remember playing this little piggy with the smallest toes I had ever seen.

I remember brushing the soles of her feet against my cheek, marveling at how soft her skin was.

Back then those feet had never taken a single step. They had never danced or supported Peeper’s weight or run toward me in excitement. They were brand new.

Little Sister learns to go barefoot

Now that Kiwi is older, she has outgrown her dedication to shoes; now, she barely tolerates anything on her feet in the summer. The first half of our summer camping trip I spent every other sentence telling her to put her shoes back on for goodness sake—and the second half I gave up, accepting that I wouldn’t be able to see her skin under all that grime until we took another dip in the river.

Most days now, it’s too cold to run barefoot outside. We spend more time indoors overall, and when we do go out, Peeper and Kiwi pull on their rain boots. Their summer feet will soften. Once again, I’ll end up nibbling their toes to see them giggle and try not to get kicked in the face when the tickles become too much.

As it turns out, I needn’t worry too much about saying goodbye to summer feet. Yes, my kids have plenty of years ahead to work on those tough callouses and perfect their barefoot walk. But they’re not letting a little cold get in their way: The other day when I planted a section of our yard with butterfly- and bee-friendly plants (getting ready to set up our beehive this spring!!!), Kiwi spent hours outside with me—barefoot.

Saying goodbye to summer feet - how going barefoot makes the most of childhood. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Maybe I’ll have to start calling summer feet autumn feet instead!

8 thoughts on “Saying goodbye to summer feet

  • October 19, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    So cute! Those little toes are too cute to cover up anyways 🙂

    • October 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      I think so too! And a little dirt don’t hurt. Ha!

  • October 19, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    So sweet. I used to walk on the pavement in 100 degree weather seeing how long I could go without burning my feet. Now, I pedicure everybit of callus off my feet, with feet so tender, I wouldn’t dream of going barefoot.

  • October 21, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Funny, I was just thinking about this, because of getting back in the yoga studio, I feel like I’m getting a totally different set of blisters/callouses from the summer set.

  • November 4, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    …And Autumn feet will turn into winter feet, and before you know it you’ll be mama bear to three little polar bears! You’ll wrap them up in cozy red scarfs, buy them all cokes and go padding across the snow to tuck them in their cozy den before nibbling their sweet little pawsies.

    • November 5, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Haha! Too true. Though I don’t know if I’ll let them run around barefoot in the snow!!

  • December 16, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    LOL @ the Coke commercial reference, I think I might’ve seen that one. So cute! But for little “bear” feets, you should try homeschooling in So. Cal. It’s mid-December here, and outdoors the average temp. is about 78. My kids love going barefoot, and they’ve remained that way since I let them donate their socks and shoes to Soles for Souls – quite an occasion for them! Can’t say the carpets look the worse for it, since human skin is far more dirt resistant than cleat soled shoes. If anything it seems like their feet are cleaner, crocs and flip flops always seemed to grind grit through and stain their socks and feet a permanent dirty greyish/black. Looking at their pink souls on the covers now you’d never guess they’re barefoot all the time, and after a bath they have a faintly sweet smell like freshly washed hands. I would know, I’m always playing with their piggies and numming them after bathtime 😉
    And, raising completely barefoot kiddo’s is where it’s at in the the Podiatric Community! I for one am all for it.

    • December 17, 2017 at 7:04 am

      Playing with their piggies really is the best! I’m thrilled you’ve found something that works so well with your family, and donating their shoes is such a real way to give back. Cheers!


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