Fit to be tied

Shoe-tying lessons. (Photo by Jack Moreh/

With my dad's guidance, I learned to tie my shoes at age 4. I remember sitting on the kitchen floor, determined to get it because Dad had promised me I'd get a sucker once I got it right. I don't remember how many tries it took or how long I sat on that floor, but I got the sucker that day.

My husband's shoe-tying experience was vastly different. As each child in his family reached shoe-tying age, he or she was sent to spend a week with Nancy, my husband's aunt on his mother's side, who apparently had a knack for helping children of kindergarten age to learn.

Until recently, my husband and I probably haven't felt as compelled to teach our daughter to tie her shoes as our parents must've felt to teach us. We have one child, but both he and I have younger siblings. I imagine our parents considered teaching the older kids to tie their own shoes gave them one less thing to have to deal with. And then there is the magic that is Velcro, which didn't exist when my husband and I were kids but is on just about every shoe I bought my child until she was about 3. Velcro makes never learning to tie your shoes possible (though not really practical if you want to branch out to other shoe types).

So, our shoe-tying lessons with our daughter lacked urgency. We had shown her on occasion, but it was usually when we were on our way out the door. We'd walk her through the steps, encourage her to give it a try, but ultimately wind up doing it ourselves because we were crunched for time.

Then, one day at one of her T-ball games, my husband noticed that some of the other kids on her team didn't need assistance when their cleats came untied. When he told me that, I started feeling a little bit like we've let our daughter fall behind. (He assured me though, that she is not the only one on her team who cannot tie her own shoes.)

So he and I have been putting more focus on teaching her. My husband had a 20-minute session with her one day. She emerged knowing the steps but making her loops too big to pull the strings tight. She's getting there. Finally.

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