Time to tie

We have had an ongoing debate in our house for 2 years now. I would be interested in knowing where you fall on this debate, as I may be turning a corner in my own thinking.

Do you think there is a world without laces?

Let me explain.

Benno can’t tie his shoes. He shows zero interest and only has a meltdown if I bring it up or attempt to show him. The few times he has attempted have been a befuddled mess. It as if the fingers don’t communicate with one another. Each finger part of a different body. No coordination. No motor memory to rely on. Just frustration. And he gives up. Over. Won’t even speak about it again.

But the debate rages on.

Is there a world without laces?

I believe the world is full of laces and Benno needs to learn this skill now, actually, yesterday. I believe the world will be full of lots of laces. Steve, on the other hand, is less concerned. “Who cares?” 

I care! ME!

So we took it the experts. 

We brought it up with Benno’s old therapist a few months ago. She asked me what goals I had for Benno in her future sessions with him. I named a few, but said I think a great place to start would be shoe tying. It felt in the realm of cognitive behavior therapy. It is a learnable behavior. This would be an easy thing for Benno to accomplish in therapy. For sure I couldn’t do it! Let’s outsource it!  

It would build up his self-confidence. How often had he encountered laces prior? Is he embarrassed that he can’t do this task? This is a great idea!

But right then and there she admonished me.

“You can be so hard on him. Why are you obsessed with laces?” And Steve nodded right along. 

“That’s why there is velcro” he chimed. 

Thoughts? What are your thoughts? 

I know what mine were. That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Why is no one else concerned about this?! AND good luck lady! Are you buying my son shoes?! Because it turns out that velcro doesn’t come much bigger than a certain size.

And ever since I’ve been on the search for shoes with velcro in his size. This is not an easy task, he’s 8 years old. 

But I try and listen to professionals. She made it clear that this was my issue, not Benno’s.  She is of the philosophy that things will happen when they are supposed to. That Benno will learn to tie his shoes when HE is ready.

Gross. Sorry. That is what I feel about this hippy-dippy shit sometimes. UGH. But, don’t I tell parents that same stuff all the time and doesn’t research support this? 

So I have backed off. I do try and listen to professionals even if I think they are stupid.

This is actually a big rule I have. 

When even a hairdresser asks me where I part my hair, I always respond “where do you think I should part my hair?” When a taxi driver asks my preferred route I ask in response, “what is your preferred route?” Because I trust the experts. And as we know empirically speaking it takes around 10,000 hours to be an expert. And I know that I spend no more than 3 minutes a day on my hair…expert I am not. 

I really try to be cognizant of what I don’t know. And who am I to think I know more than a man who spends his livelihood driving the streets of Manhattan. I trust the experts. 

So velcro it is. A retail nightmare, but velcro it is.

But these last two weeks…the tides have been turning.

Watch this

There is so much in this video that has meaning to me. I can’t stop watching it. I love so many things about it. One is Jacob watching his brother, he’s so joyful. So happy to be “out.” 

But the highlight is the tying. I know this may seem like a very boring video watching a child tie a rope, but this is the first time I’ve seen Benno try to tie anything without giving up. And he does it! He does it.

Did I keep my cool? I’m not screaming in the video, but deep down it was like watching my child walk for the first time, I was screaming in celebration.

Then my second favorite part. The takedown. When Benno got taken down. That was the highlight of his brother’s day and a good lesson in there. You don’t just get a medal and an “A” in life every time. You will be taken out. Honor your elders boy.

So maybe the therapist was right. Maybe he just needed time. He needed his own WHY! He needed a good reason to tie. He got it.

And there is a lesson for me here. It is a lesson that I have to repeat daily. Constantly being tested. Every turn, a test.

 I need patience.

Gross. I even don’t like the word. It is patronizing even in its spelling. The “soft c” the “ie.” Totally patronizing. And I hate being patronized and I hate waiting. I hate it. It’s the worst right? Traffic. Ugh. Waiting to check out. Ugh. Waiting for someone to stop speaking. THE WORST.

And here is my new life…one big waiting line. I wait on hold for health care providers. I wait 2 hours for his blood to be “typed,” just to wait 12 more hours for the administration (waiting for the blood, administer of pre-meds, blood, observation time etc). I wait. I wait. I wait. 

I have a YEAR of waiting. A YEAR of waiting to know the future for my family and son. A YEAR. 

This is tough, but maybe that annoying therapist was right. Maybe we both are right. Maybe the world is full of laces, but tying them is an individual’s journey. I just need to apply this “patience” (I hate writing it) thing to everything and give Benno time. He is already surprising me. 

Basically, Benno is doing great. 

And I will patiently wait to see what he does next. 

Or rather I will TRY and patiently see what he does next. 
I still have a lot to learn.

Join the Conversation

6 Comments

  1. That’s very cool what Benno did and he’ll do more at his own pace. Glad Jacob liked the takedown. In the meantime, if needed, loafers are cool.

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  2. My boys didn’t learn to tie until they were in middle school. I’m not kidding lol. They had zero interest as well. I bought them Velcro sneakers (like a Stan Smith style). They had white, black, navy. Some years they were made by Lacoste, sometimes Nike. Wherever I could find cool looking Velcro sneakers. They never felt strange and I didn’t care at all. I figured when they wanted to learn to tie they would and one day they said. “Mom we think we should learn to tie! So they did! Then they became sneaker heads and now they both work for Nike so the years not tying didn’t hurt them 😉 😉

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  3. This was such an important post for me, so thank you as always. I’m so much like you in attitude re thinking my daughter should learn a skill “by now” and disliking the word and patronizing sound/concept of patience.

    But I am learning the hard way that patience is a necessary skill to develop – and that it doesn’t always remove efficiency or effectiveness (often it does for sure, and I still don’t get why processes take so long or someone isn’t “fast enough” (meaning “for me”)). I’m very far from being done in my mental work on “patience” but this has been a focus for me this summer.

    Thanks for the post – you’re an inspiration and your boys are a credit to you both.

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  4. Here’s what I learned, the long and very hard way : the more I forced it, the more she dug her heels in and stayed right where she ways. Why? Control. Because kids who are dealing with anxiety or adhd or anything at all need to feel control over SOMETHING, anything. So they pick whatever it is they can control – and we’ve run the gamut from exacting bedtime routines to not eating. And this made me, a woman not unlike yourself, try and force it. Why? Control. Because I needed her to get in line and follow the “rules” and do what she’s suppose to do. Because she was making MY life feel out of control and I should be able to control my kid. Yeah. Not so much. Letting go of this and setting boundaries of health and safety and allowing her to live her life within those boundaries was life altering. And, not for nothing, she released the death grip of control once she realized we weren’t going to take it from her.

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  5. First, I can just picture the conversation with you and Steve and it totally made me smile. The very genuine and truly not at all condescending “who cares” statement by Steve. Second, for the record, every single time I go to a nail salon and they ask “square or round” I say “what do you think looks best? This is after 20+ years of regular manicures. Glad to know there are others out there like me!

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