Dear Dr. Smith,
(In the interest of full disclosure, I feel like I must apologize for snickering when I wrote doctor above. I mean, I know you went to Podiatric Medical School, and earned the title Dr, but come on, feet? So, what happens if you're on an airplane, someone collapses, and the pilot asks, "Is there a Doctor on board?" Do you just remain seated and sip your drink, or do you run forward to clip the patients' toe-nails and work on their corns until "real" medical help arrives? Just wondering...)
Now on to my problem. My son is 14 months old, and we think he has a congenital defect, or perhaps an inherited genetic disorder, that has always been present, but now has become a problem tearing our family apart. We are at wits end, and you are our last hope. (Obi-wan. Ha, just kidding, this is serious.)
You see, my son, is constitutionally incapable of keeping shoes and socks on his feet. No matter how many times we "reapply" them, minutes later he is barefoot.
We, as a family, believe in footwear. We have neighbors, who run around barefoot all summer, soles of their feet blackened, like an impending storm, by seasons end. Not us. Sure, we may go sock-less sometimes, or run barefoot on some nice grass, but for the most part...we like the shoes.
At first, it happened slowly. My son would be wearing socks in the house, and would give it his infant-all to pull them off. Since he always grabbed them by the toe, as often as not, he achieved a "half-on, half-off" look, socks flapping in the breeze when we picked him up. Sometimes, he would get them off, and we then learned he didn't like socks on his feet, but LOVED socks in his mouth.
Overtime, it got much, much worse.
Now that he is walking, we try to keep socks on him when we are home, to avoid his feet looking like the "above-mentioned" neighbors. It doesn't work. My wife and I would often accuse one another of not putting socks on the little guy, only to discover, to our shame, the tiny little pieces of evidence that we were wrong, under a couch cushion, or under a pile of toys on the floor. Many a night we would hold each other and cry, begging apology of the other for our hurtful accusations.
Then came the shoes, oh God, the shoes. When we leave the house, as responsible parents, we put both socks and shoes on the little fella'. We tuck him in the car seat, start the car, and by the time we have pulled out of the driveway, my poor afflicted son has removed at least one shoe, and has a sock in his mouth, eyes pleading with us for help with his problem.
We fear for our four year-old daughter. We hate to think about all the times she has been left to her own devices, beside the car in the parking-lot of our destination, as we search through "floor-Cheerios" and McDonald's toys for a lost sock or shoe. Must she get struck by a rogue shopping cart, or a car driven by one of those people who circle the parking-lot constantly until a space opens near the door, before the medical community will take this "condition" seriously?
Yes, we have sought help from the medical community before. The people at St. Judes Children's Hospital are just mean. Apparently, they only treat real children's' diseases like cancer and diabetes. While those conditions may be more serious, was a restraining order, instructing me not to call them, or appear in the same city as the hospital, really necessary?
Also, in desperation, we reached out to the church... Having been raised Catholic, I figured there had to be a Patron Saint we could implore for help. I mean, geez, they have a Patron Saint for everything. I looked forward to praying to a "Saint Sebastian of the Shoes", or maybe someone with slightly broader responsibilities, like a "Saint Carl of Sandals and Assorted Footwear". Nothin'. That's right, apparently Pope's through the ages, have never considered my son's disease worth of a saint. *sigh*
Doctor (hee, hee), please don't think that I have only gone outside the home for help either. I have tried to solve this dilemma myself, in fact I DID solve it. I solved it the way any red-blooded American man would have. Duct tape.
What did I care if people looked at my boy oddly, his little feet wrapped in gray? The shoes and socks stayed on, and he amused himself with desperately trying to get the tape off. It would have been the perfect solution, but, it turns out, feet need blood-flow. How was I supposed to know? I haven't been to Podiatric Medical School.
I STILL think involving Child Protective Services was overkill, I mean they saved his toes. Why involve the authorities? (Also, I don't know if you have kids, but babies are wusses. When he wore shorts and we took the tape off at night, you would think we were taking off like 4 or 5 layers of skin! It was never more than...like...two.) So, once my wife started talking to me again, I apologized and tried to rethink the problem. Apparently, she didn't like the staple nor glue-gun solutions, so here we are.
I know this may not seem like a pressing problem, to a man who deals with such serious issues as "fallen arches" and "rough heels" everyday, but we are desperate. Any research you could do, to discover if any other families are being torn apart by this nightmare, would be appreciated. Thank you.
P.S.: I know it's a little "North" of your expertise, but do you have any idea how to get a kid's skin to grow back on the legs? Just askin'.