There's No Law That Says I Have to Teach My Kids to Tie Their Shoes

kids and shoelaces

My two children are way past the little-boy stage: at nine and seven, they’re gangly big kids, all pointy elbows and knobby knees and determined shoulders. Clad in pajama bottoms, they amble around the house at night and I marvel at them, these tiny men. When did they get those sturdy ribcages, when did their soft dimples and birdlike fragility give way to taut bellies and a confident stance? And why is it that despite how grown up they seem to be, they still can’t tie a shoelace to save their life?


Okay, it’s not like they literally, physically can’t tie a shoelace. I mean, given enough time and a parent willing to step in to untangle the complicated boating knots they manage to create in the fabric, both of my kids can tie a shoe. Probably. It’s just … well, let’s just say that if they were on Survivor and they had to participate in a shoe-tying competition for speed and accuracy, they’d be voted out faster than the racist guy whose swim shorts smell like gorgonzola cheese.

I take full blame for the fact that my kids’ shoe-tying skills aren’t as sharp as they could be. For years l bought them shoes with velcro fasteners, and once they were bigger I gravitated towards the elastic lace variety. When my kids were old enough to want basketball-type high tops, I pulled out the cloth laces and replaced them with lock laces, the elastic kind that have a plastic top that slides down as a holder. Nowadays, they pretty much just shove their feet into their shoes and they’re good to go.

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So maybe you’re wondering why I’ve been taking the easy way out with laces. Well, have you noticed how long kids take to put on their damn shoes? I can’t be the only parent whose children turn into slugs trapped in glacial ice formations the minute I tell them to get ready because we’re about to walk out the door. The process of getting arms into coats and feet stuffed in shoes is ridiculous, and once you add in the factor of strings which may or may not be twisted, coiled, and snagged beyond recognition you can forget your dinner reservation. Might as well just order that pizza to go, or better yet, skip it altogether because by the time you get there the cheese will be fossilized and the restaurant will be closed and entire decades will have passed and food will have been replaced by nutrient booster shots as mankind motors around in little Wall-E hover chairs.

Plus, once the laces are actually tied there’s no guarantee they’ll stay that way. I volunteer twice a week at my children’s elementary school and everywhere I look there are kids running around with their laces flapping behind them. And do they ever appreciate it when I stop to worriedly inform them to secure their shoes before they trip and go flying into the nearest cement wall? NO. They’re like UGH GROWNUPS ALWAYS TRYING TO HARSH MY BUZZ. Fine, bolt around at top speed with long strings dangling off your feet, what could possibly go wrong. Nurse’s office is that way, champ.

Basically, my feeling is … what’s the harm? Is there a LAW that says I have to give my kids shoes with real laces that they have to tie each and every time we go somewhere? Eventually they’ll be perfectly capable of managing the various accoutrements of whatever shoe they want to wear, and in the meantime who cares if they aren’t exactly capable of nailing a speed-tying test? For every parent who judges, I say this: enjoy spending those grunty hours of your life hunched over your kid’s dirt-clogged knots like a peasant; as for me, I’ll be over here singing the praises of elastic.

Come on, who’s with me: laces are for chumps, right?

Image via Flickr/m01229

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