My son just learned how to tie his shoes.
Now, I know a lot of kids learn to tie their shoes sooner. I personally know a few preschoolers who can.
But, truthfully, it hasn’t been on my radar…what with all the Velcro these days. Plus, just like riding a bike, I figured he’d learn to do it sooner or later.
But he’s a size 4 now. They don’t really sell tennis shoes with velcro straps in that size. And Keens don’t really work all year round.
So we got him some shoes with laces. But each time he’d try to tie them, he’d throw a monumental fit.
I can’t blame him. Shoe tying is complicated.
First you have to be able to loosen your laces enough to get your foot in the shoe. That in itself is complicated because you’ve got to start at the bottom and work your way up to the top — totally counterintuitive! If you start at the top and work down, you’re screwed.
Then you have to make a bunny ear (but make sure to choke up on the strings) and wrap the other lace around it. But the most complicated part of all is figuring out how to find that stupid hole to push the non-bunny eared lace through, tight enough, mind you, so that the whole thing stays together.
If you can do this, do not take it for granted. You are a rockstar. If you are in preschool and you can do this, you are officially my hero.
Anthony (that’s my son) understandably would rather just put on his Keens. He doesn’t want to go through the frustration of trying to tie his shoes every time he wants to go outside to play.
But his Keens are stinky. And I figure he should know how to tie his shoes for third grade.
So we have been working on it each morning.
And each morning he throws a monumental fit. While I try not to throw a monumental fit at his monumental fit.
Despite all the fit-throwing…
Every morning he gets a little closer.
He, of course, has been too frustrated to notice so I have been to pointing it out to him. I promised him, if he keeps working on it each morning – even if he fails – he’ll eventually learn to tie his shoes.
And sure enough, it finally happened.
Earlier this week he successfully tied them (without help from me!).
It has opened up a whole new range of footwear options.
Ever since, he’s been carrying around his Nike’s. He’ll sit down on the couch to untie, then tie them. Oh the look of pride on this face.
“Mom, look how fast I can do it now! I even learned to tie them in my own way. It’s different from how you taught me!
There have been times in my own life when I’ve opted for “Keens” instead of learning how to “tie my shoes.”
In business, for example, I got pretty good at writing blog posts (like this one). They’re short and to the point.
But I’ve always wanted to write a book. But that is a whole different kind of writing. There’s character development. Plot. Actual grammar. And each time I tried, it felt complicated. Overwhelming. Sort of like shoe tying.
So I kept doing the easy thing instead.
Now that I’ve finally gotten started on the book project, it’s like I want to carry it around with me all the time. I just had to give myself the space to try it, show up every day and let myself get through the hard part.
How about you?
Where in your life are you settling on “Keens” instead of learning how to tie your shoes?
I’ll tell you the same thing I told my son… the same thing I tell myself:
You can learn how to do it. Whatever “it” is for you.
But you have to show up. Every day. Okay, a lot of days. Even – especially – when it’s hard. It will start out feeling complicated and overwhelming. Expect that.
You’ll want to do the easy, familiar thing instead.
But, come on, we all know that doing the easy, familiar thing instead is giving up.
Don’t give up. Get help! But keep showing up until the complicated, overwhelming feelings starts to go away.
Let yourself fail every day until you get there. Know that the failures are progress.
Then, one day, you’ll stop feeling mostly frustrated and you’ll start to feel something else:
You’ll start to believe.
And then you won’t want to put the thing down.
That’s when you know you are on your way.