Here we have a shoe rack:
Nothing exceptional about that. Every home has one, or some other accommodation for the footwear that cannot, given our climate/weather, be tromped throughout the house.
It takes years of consistent effort to convince your children that shoes do indeed need to be removed from one's person before one starts racing through the house, stomping up stairs, clambering up over the soft furnishings, leaving a trail of sand, mud, snow, slush, twigs, dust and dead bugs in one's wake. Parent work for years to get this drilled into them. Years.
Infancy: "Time to take those shoesies off. Oh, toes!! Let mummy nibble on those lovely little toes!!!"
Toddler: "Uh-oh! Did you forget to take your shoes off???"
School-age: "Where are you going with those shoes, young lady/man?"
But you know, eventually it does get drilled in, mostly, and by the time they're teens, they do start removing footware. Without even thinking about it!
And therein lies the problem. "Without even thinking about it." It's automatic. Mindless. Brainless.
In the picture at the top of this post? Every single one of those shoes on the rack? They belonged to either me or my husband...
The kids' shoes are here:
The picture does not do justice to the reality. These are LARGE shoes, people. LARGE. Many of them have ... odour issues. In fact, not all of the shoes associated with our brood are in this picture. One or two pairs lie on the porch, where I tossed them when the fumes threatened to kill the family pet. My entire front hall (yes, that's the whole thing), is carpeted in LARGE, STINKY SHOES. (And one random pair of socks. See them, up at the top? Socks. Can this possibly be a surprise?)
And while I must confess that the shoe rack is very obviously NOT up to the task of dealing with the staggering number of feet which inhabit this small house, the evidence is still very clear: Not one of those ambling, shambling teens-on-footwear-autopilot has made the slightest attempt to place their shoes where they would be out of the way.
It took years of diligent effort to get them to take the damned things off. It will take still more years of diligent effort to get them to LINE THEM UP AGAINST THE WALL! (Because remembering to put your shoes together, and to one side? So the next person in the door doesn't trip or drown? That's really, really complicated. Yes, really, it is! It must be complicated, hugely complicated, because these are NOT stupid kids. No, no they're not. Really. All shoe evidence to the contrary.)
A complicated task, then, that will take more years of diligent effort to drill into them. But, given that the youngest is 13, and they will be leaving the nest by 20 at the latest (Um, yes. Yes, they will. Every single stinky-footed one of them.), the sad truth of the matter is that I do not HAVE sufficient years in which to train them.
So, ladies and gentlemen, that second picture? That is a picture of the next seven years of my life.