Just when you think it’s over, it all begins again. As our youngest kids are heading off to college we are immersing ourselves in the lives of our grandchildren. Grandchildren. Honestly folks, I have a hard time saying that with a straight face. I honestly want to know who, in their right mind, gave our oldest, most mischievous, trouble magnet son the idea that he should procreate?
Granted, having children has changed that wild child into a man, but it also brings to shocking light that we, as his parents, are freakin’ old! I mean dude, I’m a grandma! I truly never imagined that happening—ever. But it did and now, while packing kids up and gently shoving them out into the world, we are simultaneously trying to teach our 4 year old granddaughter the seemingly simple task of tying her own shoes.
I have never embarked upon a more formidable endeavor in my life. You must be thinking, Nik, you’ve taught your own kids to tie their shoes, you should be a pro. To that I say, aahh, shut up! The differences between children and grandchildren are as broad as the Amazon River and can be just as rough to traverse. You see, kids today aren’t what they used to be. They’re mushy, tantrum prone, unmovable, crank boxes that fold under the slightest bit of pressure. That pretty much sums up our oldest granddaughter. Arguably, she does qualify for the role of a typical 4 year old, but she’s also just like her father. She’s a stubborn, blued-eyed mule with the attention span of a gnat. Okay, her father’s eyes are green, but still!
The loose shoelace adventure began early one Saturday morning when we picked up the grand’s to do some kite flying at The Common in Pittsfield. It was a beautiful day in the Berkshires up until I stopped our procession to ask the oldest “grandy” to tie her shoelace.
“I don’t know how. Pop, tie my shoe, please.” She said turning to her go-to guy “slash” personal servant, grandfather. I was aghast, appalled. Before he could bend down and do her bidding, I interceded.
“Wait, you’re like 12 years old already, why can’t you tie your own shoelaces?” I asked.
“I’m owney four, Nani.”
“Uh, yeah, okay, so why can’t you tie your shoelaces?” I asked undeterred. She shrugged and stuck her foot out to her grandfather. Oh no, that simply wouldn’t do. I recognized a teaching moment when I saw one and decided then and there that, by the end of the day she would know how to tie her shoes! I guess she gets a little bit of her stubbornness from me, but don’t tell my hubby I admitted that.
So, while Pop and the other kids walked off to prep their kites for deployment, we plopped down on the grass and began instruction on how to tie shoelaces. First, I did a simple demonstration on my own shoe, just to show her how it’s done. Then I asked her to try it herself. She looked at me like I was insane, propped her elbows on her knees and dropped her face into her open hands. I half expected her to shout, ‘Oy vey!’
“Come on, Punkin, give it a try.” I coaxed. She sighed and shook her head. Hmm … this might be a bit more difficult than I anticipated, but I would not give up. I would not surrender!
I started again by crossing the shoe laces and indicated that “X” marks the spot. I showed her how to tuck one string under and then pull both ends out to complete the overhand knot, the base of the shoelace tie. She wasn’t impressed. Then I decided to pique her interest with the old “Bunny Ears” tying technique while singing her a shoelace tying song I learned from watching SpongeBob — don’t judge me! She apparently hates bunnies because she didn’t budge. I showed her the old, loop, swoop, pull trick. She looked at the birds. I tried the double knot, she gingerly picked her nose. I put the laces in her hand, she dropped them immediately claiming they were “dirty.” That coming from a kid that was just picking her nose.
“Come on!” I whined. “You can’t fly kites with loose shoelaces; you’ll fall and break your face!” I exclaimed. A simple solution came to her almost immediately. She yanked off both shoes, threw them over her head, ripped off her socks and tossed them across the grass and then she glared at me. I guess the look of defeat on my face was plain and clear because she suddenly reached over and hugged me. She patted my hair and kissed my forehead.
“Nani, let’s just go play. Okay?” She said.
“Yeah. Okay, Punkin.” I sighed as I took my shoes and socks off, too.
I didn’t teach that child anything that day. On the contrary, I learned something very valuable instead. I learned to never, never, never-ever, attempt to teach a 4 year old ANYTHING while everyone else is having fun at the park. DUH ME! I also learned that loose shoelaces aren’t the worst things in the world and that a simple hug and kiss from your grandchild can fix just about anything!
Well, ladies and gentlemen, it seems that life is just beginning for me — again.