Clippings: The incredible shrinking shoes


“Is it Monday?” Frankie asked me the moment she woke up on the first day of this week. “Yup,” I told her, thinking she might have something to say about the school lunch schedule.

She threw her hands up. “Don’t walk on the road!” she warned.

A crew has been repaving our road since last week. On Friday, 4-year-old Frankie and I went to check it out. We had a nice chat with Bob, one of the workers, about stop signs and speeding and the project timeline. And then he said this:

“On Monday we’ll have a big tanker out here spraying the road with magnesium carbonate. Make sure the kids don’t walk on it or it will shrink their shoes.”

We laughed. What? Shrink our shoes?

He was not kidding. He assured us that this was a real thing. The mixture they spray on the gravel can shrink leather and other shoe materials. (I tried to confirm it on the internet, but “magnesium carbonate road paving shrink shoes” led me down a weird Google path. I’m just going to have to trust Bob.)

Later that day, Frankie looked at me, worried.

“Will cats shrink on the road?” she wanted to know. “Will cars?”

“No, no, it only shrinks shoes,” I said, laughing at the absurdity. But we decided to play it safe and keep our kitty indoors on Monday.

On the big day, Frankie told everyone about the shoe-shrinking road. She loved the adventure of it all. The danger!

We managed to walk and bike to school without touching the road. After school, when the big tanker drove by our house (twice!), Frankie declared, “It’s here!!!” and ran out to watch it spray.

I watched her from inside, thinking, this is the weird kind of thing kids remember forever. Someday, when she’s all grown up, I bet Frankie will think of the time the road almost shrank our shoes, and it’ll make her smile.

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