I can’t tell if this is a great act of strategic parenting, or if I’ve just entered the slippery slope of not giving a shit, but I’ve finally given up on the shoe laces.
My big one walks around all day, all the time, with his shoes untied. It makes me nuts. It makes me nuts because he’s going to bite the dust one time and get hurt, all because of the damned laces. It makes me nuts because he ruins the laces and then, yes you guessed it, I get to add “find shoe laces” to that ever long to-do list. And it makes me nuts because he already got them caught once in an escalator and we had to remove the shoe from the foot so he could get off the escalator without losing a limb and then I had to, you guessed it, MacGyver it out to save the shoe. I only got stepped on by 47 million shoppers passing by.
But I feel like he’s at that age (10) where everything that comes out my mouth is a nag. Because there are always shoe laces untied for no reason, messy handwriting, clothes on the floor, hair that beckons to be brushed, and a plate that never got cleared. Some of it doesn’t affect me, some does, but it all sounds like a nag when relayed by me. It’s my kid’s time to find out who he is, on his own, without me doing the work-or the nagging-for him.
When we think about letting our kids blossom and develop into their own selves, we think about letting them blossom into their best selves. Maybe they’ll become more organized, realize they’re good at sports, or their teachers will report how kind and thoughtful they’ve become with maturity.
But, we never think that part of letting our kids be who they really are means letting them be their worst selves as well. We can help them organize themselves for homework, teach them to be kind, and remind them to tie their shoes, but they get to the age when we can’t do the work for them. They have to be who they are, for better and worse.
So if you see a sports loving kid with unbrushed blonde hair and untied shoe laces walking down a Los Angeles street, he’s mine. He’s wise, bright, smart, messy, emotional, moves too fast, needs more confidence, writes beautiful stories no one can read because he won’t slow down enough to show off his beautiful handwriting, and never ties his shoes.
You’ll want to ask him to tie his shoes. Have at it, but he probably won’t listen. He may trip over those laces, or get them stuck in an escalator and you’ll think, “Why doesn’t his mother make him tie his shoes?” Then you’ll look at your own child’s untied shoes or unbrushed hair and you’ll remember that part of parenting is letting them fail, fall, and flail. There’s no silver lining in getting to say, “I told you so,” only the knowledge that no kid goes to college with his shoes untied. At least that’s what I keep telling myself while I restrain myself from telling my kid to stop and tie his shoes.
11/2/31 11:47 pm, Los Angeles, California.
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