About two weeks ago, Eliott’s class of behavioral over-achievers filled the jar of gold drops (and I quote) “faster than any class has ever done this!” (according to the email) and earned themselves a little party. It was a stuffed animal party. Each kid was allowed to bring a favorite stuffed animal to school for the day. Talk about a genius idea.

But this was back before brand-new-and-also-pregnant-kindergarten-mom had her shit together.

It was a Thursday. John offered to take Eliott to school, so he could see her classroom, meet her teacher, and let Carter and me sleep in.

He checked back in on his way to court to say that everything was fine. She was really excited to ever awkwardly introduce announce her newest crush to Daddy and show off her locker. “But by the way, I think she was supposed to bring Lamby Lamb to school today? She forgot.”

“Oh, no! It was Stuffed-Animal-Gold-Drop-Party-Day!” I said with more than a little exasperation, because I wasn’t about to drive fifteen minutes one way to drop off a lovey on a morning I had already successfully avoided traffic in the car-line. “Eliott is going to be so sad.”

In my decision to take the tough-love challenge, I prepared myself for the long ride home at 3:20.

The minute the sliding door opened (at the touch of a magical mini-van button), Eliott burst into tears. “I forgot Lamby Lamb! And it was Gold Drop Party Day! And Lamby Lamb is at home all alone after I told her she could come to school with me, and she was so excited and now she’s going to be so sad.  I am just having the worst day ever…”

I cannot even convey the sentiment as I write it, but I assure you, this was a pretty heartbreaking moment, even for me. Then came the clincher: “…because you know what else Mommy? My brand new shoes broke today.”

Stop the bus.

Brand new, as in the Stride Rite’s we just threw down fifty smackers for?! Oh heck no. “We’re taking those bad boys back,” I assured her.

I hate the mall. Have I mentioned this before?

So of course it took some time before I worked up both the energy for the parking lot, and for the closet of a store that is the Winston-Salem Stride Rite, which I have successfully avoided by ordering all of our most recent shoe purchases online.

Even at noon on a Wednesday, I had to wait. The very nice woman working that day told me two things I did not want to hear:

First, I can’t take these back here because we don’t carry this style in the store. If you simply return them and re-order from home, you’ll lose your buy one get one fifty percent off discount. Basically, you’ll only get half your purchase price back. And, we can’t place orders for you in the store.

Of course. So she made a quick phone call (apparently they have a direct line to corporate in Ohio that bypasses the courtesy menu and elevator music), jotted something down, then handed me a sticky note with a smile.

I’m really sorry to have to do this, but Stride Rite does guarantee against such defects, so if you call this number, and have these three numbers handy, they’ll let you know what to do.

Basically, this meant I now needed to go home, prepare myself for and then execute a long ass phone call. THEN, drive my hiney up to the post office where I ship off a defective shoe (that we really need to be wearing right now), hoping that they send something non-defective in return, along with credit for my shipping costs.

Lord. Have mercy.

I did go home and start the phone call. But then, instead of waiting on hold, I hung up and did what I should have done in the first place. I wrote an email.

And, if I do say so myself, I’m not half bad with words. And the camera on my iPhone.

The happy ending to this ever-so-drawn out story is that I got the exact response I had hoped for, the very next day:

Dear Claire,

Thank you for your inquiry.

I am sorry to see the strap has broken on your daughter’s shoe. Stride Rite does warrant against manufacturing defects. Based on the photo you have attached, this product is defective. At this time, I have placed a new order for a replacement pair of shoes. These should ship out either today or tomorrow. We ship all of our Children’s products from Ohio, please allow 2-5 business days for delivery once your order has processed. You may discard the defective shoes to ensure that you do not have any return costs for shipping.

We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced.

I assured the company, via email and Facebook, I’d promote this experience on the Mommy Network as well as my personal blog. Several moms responded to my first promise with, “You are so lucky. I wrote a long complaint months ago and I’m still waiting to hear back.”

I refrained from writing, “Well, if your spelling and tone in the email even remotely resemble the same voice you use here, on this forum, I think you might continue waiting indefinitely.”

Dear future and former students: this is why I am such a stickler about good writing. Because one day it just might earn you a free pair of shoes.

As for Lamby Lamb visiting Kindergarten. First, Eliott made a new friend that day named Sarah, who also forgot her stuffed animal. Zing. Then, on the very next show-and-tell day, she got to bring something (anything) in a brown bag and give clues to what it was.

Lesson learned. Problem solved. And, a new friend, possibly for life.

I am the greatest mother in the universe.

Why I Will Continue to Pay Premium Prices for Children’s Shoes

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