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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tying my shoes


Some childhood moments remain with me in complete clarity.  Learning to tie my shoes is one. I was between three and four years old.

The staircase to upstairs had one landing.  I sat on the first step of the top landing, tying the shoelace of a brown Buster Brown, overhand knot after overhand knot. I wanted to make the laces short enough not to step on.

“Damn shoe won’t tie,” I said repeatedly under my breath. “Damn shoe won’t tie.”

I became aware of my father looming tall over me. “Would you like to learn to tie your shoes?”

I nodded a vigorous yes.

He walked down a couple of steps, and then sat down behind me on the landing, his feet below mine. (Dad was about 6’6”, and could stand on the bottom step, bend over and put his palms on the floor.)

I watched as his long fingers quickly untied several inches of knots.  Then he demonstrated.  Then he untied my shoe lace and guided my hands through the motions.  Then he untied my shoe and I tied it myself.

Dad stood up and said, “Very nice.  Your cousin Bobby can’t do that yet, and he’s in school.”


My brother Walt and me, April 1946.  The sibling on the left could tie shoes.


With thanks to Handy Andy for stirring up such a fun memory.

25 comments:

  1. Wow. Early talent shining through...
    I can still only tie my shoelaces if I don't think about it. Muscle memory?

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  2. You sure brought back a memory... My son was 4...soon to be 5 years old... going to go to kindergarten in the fall. One of the requirements was that the kids know how to tie their shoes (I suppose that's obsolete these days with velcro).... So we had this "Mother Goose" shoe and started making bows, etc. His younger sister was barely 3 years old... without me even realizing it, she had watched and began tying her own shoes. Isn't it a wonder how quickly kids pick up stuff... Now we have great-grandkids and all I can say to their parents is... teach them to read... teach them Spanish or another language as well as English... read to them... just let them know that there's a whole world out there just waiting for them to enter into it. And... congratulations on learning to tie your own shoes!

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  3. Today they teach kids a funky way to tie shoes by making loops. They never get tight enough. Matt @31 taught Spencer @10 how to do it right. It took him several days. Kids don't need to learn at 4 anymore, their shoes are Velcro.

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  4. A very special memory indeed. I wonder if kids now ever learn to tie a shoe with the velcro tabs on their runners.

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  5. I can see from your picture why you learned to tie so quickly--brightest eyes in your community, I'll bet. I really don't think they are less bright now, just shielded by the glasses, and sometimes tired from keeping up with the latest generation of bright eyes.

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  6. My eldest brother is eight years older than me & taught me a lot... how to tell the time, jump off busses without paying, catching flies, placing bets, throwing stones ( at cars !!! ) repeating rude words...
    yes he was quite an educator !

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  7. I remember asking the teacher to tie my shoelace for me when I was 5 - under-developed...

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  8. Hari Om
    Of the early memories I DO have, learning the laces is not one of them - dad teaching me to catch trout by hand (at 2.5 years) looms large though... &*> xx

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  9. We learned to tie shoes by tying ribbons around chair backs. In the backyard on a sunny day. We were shown once and the correct copying of the tying of the bow earned a chocolate frog. It was delicious!

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  10. Now a person can buy velcro closure shoes and go through life without ever having to learn how to tie shoelaces!

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  11. It's amazing how many small skills kids are losing in our modern age. My grandkids finally learned how to tie shoelaces but they still have trouble telling time from the face of a regular clock. They grew up in a digital world.

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  12. I have a clear memory of that too. I learned by making two bunny ears. A babysitter taught me. :)

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  13. Love that photo, you look so happy and ready to take on the world.

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  14. At three years old that is an accomplishment. My kiddo used to sling hers across the room and end up in time out.

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  15. You were certainly blessed with a kind, gentle and understanding dad. Thank you for a Monday smile.

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  16. Your picture is beautiful. I have a very similar one where I sit with my sister. We are on a blanket like in yours and, if I remember well, the blanket had been spread on a chest of drawers.

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  17. What a nice memory that is! Even the "damn shoe won't tie" part :) Love the picture. The same sparkle is still in your eyes.

    I knew how to tie my shoes around the same age, and also before my older cousin, and was recruited to show him. He wasn't impressed, and neither was I.

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  18. So sweet.

    I can remember sitting in my mother's lap, learning to tie, probably around 4. Thanks for reminding me...

    Pearl

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  19. Looks like you might have learned a few words from your Daddy, too. ;-)

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    Replies
    1. I actually learned that from my grandmother; his mother. Dad's swear word of choice was Hell's Bells.

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  20. Dear Joanne, I so enjoyed this blog. I like to go back in time and learn about the earlier lives of the bloggers I follow. Each of us is a novel of many chapters. Peace.

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  21. That's a good skill to have so young. I don't seem to have those memories with such clarity. There is a collection of bits and pieces that seem more like a dream sequence.

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  22. So well written.... a simple thing about tying shoe lace. Or it is simple? I know how it is..... we had to tie a tie before going to school. It took me days and days to learn how to tie that knot. And when I thought I had mastered the art, the school goes and changes it to "now you can use those readymade ties with the elastic that goes under the collar" !!!!

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  23. OH! I just love that story.. and your photo and pithy cutline. Your dad was HUGE and how well you described him, in so few words. As I've said a zillion times, you sure can write, lady. And by the way, I don't have a CLUE when I learned to tie my shoes.

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