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They’ll learn when they’re good and darn ready

Submitted by on Tuesday, 30 March 2010 No Comment

It’s a lesson I should have remembered from when the guys were potty training.

I tried to start early with both, Big Guy because Boots was on the way and Boots because he insisted that wanted underwear.

Instead of freedom from changing diapers, though, I managed to immerse myself in a protracted hoo-ha in both cases. Big Guy wasn’t physically ready. Boots wasn’t mentally ready – and he wouldn’t be until we gave him some peace and quiet.

But by the time it came time to learn to tie shoes – past time, really, thanks to the marvels of Velcro – I’d forgotten all of that.

I started nagging Big Guy about a year ago when he went through a bout of insisting that we buy “string shoes.” OK, but you’re going to have to learn to tie them, I told him. I gave up after two days.

I went another round with him when we bought soccer shoes a few months ago. “OK, but you need to know how to tie them by the end of the season.” He was a little more interested this time, but fine-motor coordination has never been his strong suit. He gave up after two days.

About a month into the season – it was about the time we’d bought his baseball cleats and I’d issued another deadline – he looked around and saw that all his teammates but one could tie their shoes. He found that he was the only one running repeatedly to the coach for help. In his defense, he was the youngest player on the team, but he didn’t realize that. He knew that if he truly wanted to run with the big dogs, he needed to be able to handle his own big boy shoes.

So one Sunday, he sat down and mastered it within a half hour.

It was a bit painful – the coordination needed to loop the final loop didn’t come easily for him, leading to some wailing.

But the smile on his face when he completed it for the first time was worth listening to the grumbling.

And, in the end, my warnings and deadlines didn’t do a thing to set the process in motion. He learned to tie his shoes when he was ready to learn.

I’m going to try to remember this when the next milestone rolls around. The offer does not apply, though, to learning to do their own laundry.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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