Every parent has their own worries. Stranger danger, the internet, child-minding costs, the fear that one of them will wake early when you have a hangover.
But there is one depths-of-despair moment that unites anyone with kids — when you can only find one of their shoes.
I discovered this recently on Twitter. I had this notion a while back that I’d make a fortune as a Twitter dad, sharing crazy stuff my wife and kids did and hoping they wouldn’t sue me in later life for invasion of privacy.
Anyway, it didn’t work. I only got a couple of likes per post, most of them from my wife to make it clear that she’s watching my every move.
The exception was a photo I posted of one sandal, with a caption suggesting there goes the rest of my day looking for the other one.
I wouldn’t say Twitter went on fire but there were enough comments and retweets to suggest I’d hit a nerve.
I’m obviously not the only person who thinks there is nothing worse than in life than a missing shoe. (Particularly because it always goes missing when you only have seven seconds to get out the door.)
For starters, it’s a lot worse than two missing shoes. That’s a much bigger target, so I actually like the thrill of the chase when it comes to looking for the pair, at least until I find one of them and then head into the depths of despair.
Usually, you will find a pair of shoes in the obvious places — by the back door or pushed under the sofa in the dining room.
But a single shoe could be anywhere really, from behind the telly in their Gran’s house to a service station on the M8.
I got a feeling for this the other day when I spotted one of my daughter’s sandals on the floor in the dining room.
I don’t know if you’ve watched The Wire, but there is a legendary bit when two cops, Bunk and McNulty, visit the scene of a murder and try to reconstruct what happened.
The reason it’s legendary is because the two of them just say “f**k” for three minutes as they unravel the mystery.
I had a similar experience trying to reconstruct the Case of the Missing Shoe.
For me, it was more a case of how the f**k did this happen? The evidence suggests my daughter just threw off one of her sandals in the middle of the dining-room.
But then what? Did she limp along on one sandal for a while, until that became too much, at which point she took off it off and hid it?
Or maybe that’s not what happened at all. Maybe her two sandals were in the front room, and she took one of them and put it in the dining room for reasons we might never understand.
Or could it be we have a dog I haven’t noticed which likes to move shoes around the place in the middle of the night?
All I know is there is no point in asking my daughter for the answer.
Asking a child to help you find something is an instant nervous breakdown — they have no short-term memory.
In three months’ time she will say “Remember that time I put one of my shoes in the recycling bin,” and I’ll say “No, and neither did you until five seconds ago.”
I think men find The Case of the Single Shoe harder to take than women.
My wife went boozing with some moms the other night and when they got around to shoes, one of them said her husband basically loses the will to live when a single shoe goes missing.
We men like order. We also like technology.
So here’s an idea for anyone reading this involved in the design of small shoes –- please put a SIM and ringer in the heel so can phone them when one goes missing.
Seriously, stress is the new killer. That one small enhancement could add 10 years to our lives.