That’s what my Dad used to say to me all the time. The first time he said it I was very small and absolutely horrified, and I heatedly insisted that my feed DID match. Then he took my tiny toes in his hands and pointed out that my big toes were on different sides and that if my feet truly matched they would look exactly the same. Stubborn as I was, I did not like to be teased in this way and for a long time I scowled at him every time he said it. The older I got it became progressively more annoying until – poof! – it it became endearing, one of many stock phrases he could be counted to toss out in the course of a day. And eventually I started saying it to my own kids, and they find me annoying. Surprise.
Last Sunday morning it came to mind when my boy padded into my room and slipped into bed with me, taking up the spot usually occupied by his traveling Dad. As I snoozed on my right side, he lay on his left side playing with his iPod, and he lined up his feet so that the soles of his matched up with the soles of mine. An excellent case of respecting personal space with me, as I jealously guard the few weekend mornings when I can sleep in.
I used to think more than I should have about the matching feet thing – it took me longer than usual to grasp the concept of symmetry, I guess. It bothered me when I was little, because I was the youngest and hardly ever in on the joke and thus took everything so literally (case in point: I thought the guerillas who terrorized the Olympic village in 1972 were men in gorilla suits). Sometimes I still miss the cues and can be gullible, which makes me love living with this boy even more because his syntax and receptive language are all over the place – it can be hard to know when he is being silly and when he is earnest. He relies quite heavily on scripted speech and so some of the mashups that come out are priceless. A few weeks ago after being rude and subsequently scolded he asked, “Did my popping off cook my goose?” The latest favorite happened when he got into the car after a long bike ride with a friend: “Man! I have a splitting butt ache!!”
Our feet might not match, but I think we understand symmetry. And, unlike his mother, he has very nice feet.