shoesThe other day I was with one of my son's second grade friends. I told him his shoe was untied, and bent down to tie it for him. He looked up at me strangely, said, "I can tie my own shoe," and bent down and did so. 

I was impressed, though I know an 8-year-old doing so should probably be a given. So I vowed once again that I'd finally get around to teaching my 8-year-old how to tie his own shoe. Only I still haven't, and apparently I'm not the only slacker parent when it comes to shoelaces. 

Among other skills our kids are lacking today, a survey from a British energy company recently found that 45 percent of kids ages 5-13 can't tie their shoes. While that might be alarming to some -- and certainly was to the survey authors who used this and other findings to bemoan that "youths have lost their sense of adventure and lack skills, which older generations take for granted" -- I found it reassuring. 

Lisa Belkin at The New York Times does a nice job of rebutting these accusations against our kids and their lack of skills with the host and new impressive things they CAN do these days, calling it "Darwinism at work. The march of time." I couldn't agree more. 

Between Uggs, Keens, and Velcro shoes, the only real shoes with laces my son has ever owned have been cleats for sports. His daily routine is the rip and zip and ease of Velcro. Even when it comes to his cleats, there are ways to cheat and avoid that whole dreaded bunny ear business with things like lace locks

While I suppose he needs to know how to tie shoe laces eventually, it just hasn't been a priority. I'd rather lace him up with double knots myself then send him out to work on his skills at shortstop than sit on the sidelines trying to get him to perfect the perfect knot. Both would be ideal, of course, but sometimes something just has to give. In kindergarten when they worked on it, his little fingers weren't quite dexterous enough, and he quickly grew frustrated. Then they moved on and so did we ... with our life. Call me lazy, but shoe laces have never tied us up, so to speak.

Do I want him to go to college and have to ask someone to tie his shoe? No, but I know one of these days he'll get sick of letting me tie his shoes, and he'll conquer it. I don't think his life will be of any lesser quality in the meantime, and he has plenty of other more impressive skills anyway, like some killer moves he's learned in Brazilian Jujitsu ... where they don't wear shoes at all.

At what age did your child learn to tie his or her shoes? Does this study surprise you?


Image via Jeanne Sager