Stepping Up

One of the nicest compliments I’ve ever gotten from one of my kids was when my second son told me, “I haven’t learned anything at school that you didn’t already teach me.” Of course, that was in first grade and I’m pretty sure he’s moved on by now. I rarely do anything Pinterest-worthy with my kids, but I can have my Tiger Mom moments. Reading at age 3? No problem. Piano at age 4? Check. But teaching them to tie their shoes? It should be a basic parental duty, but just the thought of it makes me want to pull out all my eyelashes one by one.

I don’t even know how my oldest two learned to tie their shoes. My friend taught my third son while she babysat him. This fourth and final son is my last chance to redeem myself and I am determined to see it through, no matter how painful it may be (for me or for him).

This boy (we’ll call him Fritz) loves the book Countdown to Kindergarten. In April and May of this year, we probably read it to him 80 times. It is a clever book, but after the first 30 rounds, it lost its appeal. I asked him to choose a different book, ANY book, but he refused. My husband added silly parts to it just to break up the monotony, then Fritz insisted that I do them too. Sometimes I tried skipping spots but I never got away with it. He’d wait to tell me he noticed I’d skipped until I was all the way to the end, then he’d say, “You did it wrong. Now you have to read it all over again.” Relentless. And since a successful story reading leads to the pot of gold at the end of any day–namely, bedtime–we were often at his mercy.


The book is about a girl who dreads starting kindergarten because she heard it’s a rule that kindergarteners have to know how to tie their shoes by themselves. She freaks out, but instead of learning to tie, she and her cat come up with some funny and elaborate plans to hide her shoes the closer she gets to the first day of kindergarten.


Since Fritz started kindergarten this week, I decided we would have our own countdown to kindergarten to document his (hopefully) successful attempt to learn how to tie his shoes and my (oh please, oh please let this work) efforts to teach him. Please ignore my lack of artistic talent as we present to you Fritz’s Countdown to Kindergarten by Fritz Carraldo and Humdrum Stickinthemud.



Fritz chose these shoes because he thought they would make him super fast. I chose them because they only cost $5.


11 days before kindergarten, my neighbor posted this video on the school’s Facebook page. Perfect timing. Plus, it looked so simple. Maybe we could pull this off after all.


Lots of frustration.


Why did we come here again?


Sometimes you just need a little break.


Ok, break’s over. Back to work.


This happened to us more than once. He thought it was hilarious that we’d gone through all that work only to find out the shoe was on the wrong foot. I laughed along with him, but was crying on the inside. I’m not a very patient person.


Instead of cheering him on, they became Statler and Waldorf.


More frustration.


(We won’t mention how long the first shoe took.)


And he’s off to kidrgartin, laces and all. Go Fritz!!!


So we did it. I mean, he did it. There were some moments of frustration and some tears, but whenever that happened, I just hovered above him and reminded him in my whisperiest voice, “Don’t give up, you’re not beaten yet.”


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