Friday, August 30, 2013

Lace 'em up

It's hard not to be prideful watching my children's early learning achievements.  I fight back the first thoughts that bubble to my consciousness, Oh I see he's got that knack for early reading from my side of the family, and She's so musical; obviously a trait from me, I'm quite the whistler you know.  When really, I should be just be praying that I didn't pass on this overwhelming tendency for self-righteousness.  Genetics aside, I'm finding true enjoyment in the whole process of teaching my kiddies the things that they need to know in this big world.  Now, I'll be the first to admit, potty training was not my finest hour.  Not hardly.  But, a year of country life has slowed me and I'm grateful that I can approach these new learning milestones with a bit more patience.  And is there anything that requires more patience than learning to tie shoes? there?  If so, tell me now because I'm going to start stockpiling small amounts of patience in a patience savings account for the necessary time.  Oh wait, I just thought of one: driving.  Ugh.  Teaching driving will likely take a lot of patience.  And maybe some Valium.  Just being realistic here.

Back to shoe tying.  Yes, prayer and quiet life in the country have been slowly building in me the abilities needed to patiently teach my children.  That is to say prayer, country living, and a big slice of humble pie.  You see, I pulled up a youtube video just to use as a teaching aide before we entered into this learning adventure.  Turns out, there's a new way to tie shoes.  So far's I know, that makes three ways you can tie a shoe.  There's the right way (the way I learned).  There's the two bunny ears crossed under each other way.  Then, there's this new way.  Magic fingers it's called.  Here it is, if you're so inclined:

Looks super easy, right?  Always trying to be hip and in the know with the latest shoe lace tying teaching styles, I decided to give it a whirl before I took my instruction to the streets.  I worked diligently, but I might as well have been trying to tie my shoes with ten frozen thumbs using only my upside-down reflection to guide me because it just. didn't. work.  I tried and tried.  Well, for about 45 seconds anyways, before stopping out of embarrassment and on account of I was hungry.  I learned an important lesson this day:

Learning is so hard when you're old!!!  

Which led me to realize this:

Learning is so hard when you're young!!! 

Which makes it just so great to see how much my kids love learning!  They get this from me, of course.   And, which makes me just that much more empathetic as I teach them, waiting patiently as they flip out in frustration (having just done this as a 35-year old myself), willing my tremoring hand to stay by my side and let them struggle through and fail, when it wants to just jump in and just finish off the knot for them.  And then, this morning, much faster than this old brain would have mastered such a novel task... success.  E came running in from the mudroom, one daintily tied shoe on her foot.

 "Mom!  Mom!  Look!" she called, breathless. "I tied it myself!"

"What?! That's awesome!  Let me see!  Can you do the other shoe??"

"Yes! Watch!"  I followed her out into the mudroom and sat to watch.  I was nearing critical lateness for work, but this was a moment.  A real moment.  The first shoe tie.  E struggled to recreate what she'd just done moments ago.  She tried once.  Then twice.  Maybe it was something about her jumpy handed mother hovering over her and breathing coffee breath down her neck that threw her off her game but soon she was kicking her shoe off in a fit of rage.  Now, back in potty training days, I might have responded with the like, but this was the wiser and more restrained Christi.  I kept my calm, retrieved her shoe and helped her through, holding the bunny ear in place and gently instructing her through a proper loop around and pull through once she had regained herself.  

By the time we got to the sitter, E was over her frustration, and now reveling in her initial success which she excitedly shared with the sitter as soon as she entered her home.

"Wow, shoe tying!  That's great!"  the sitter eyed me respectfully.  "Where did you learn to do that?"  I smiled, doing my best to appear humble and not at all prideful as I knelt down and helped E out of her shoes.

"Oh, a video from the computer," she responded simply, standing up and walking past us on her way to a pile of princess dolls.

Ahem.  Right then.  Super lovely.  I'll just sweep up that big mess of pride that's spilled all over the floor here and be on my way.  Parental pride has been appropriately put in check.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Tryin' On Clothes

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I tried on the farmer's hat,
Didn't fit…
A little too small — just a bit
Too floppy.
Couldn't get used to it,
Took it off.
I tried on the dancer's shoes,
A little too loose.
Not the kind you could use
for walkin'.
Didn't feel right in 'em,
Kicked 'em off.

I tried on the summer sun,
Felt good.
Nice and warm — knew it would.
Tried the grass beneath bare feet,
Felt neat.
Finally, finally felt well dressed,
Nature's clothes fit me best.
© Shel Silverstein. All rights reserved

By any other measure, it is bedtime.  The day is done.  It is 7:30 and time to tuck these sleepy kids in for the night.  But, that closing in feeling of the end of summer is gripping me and instead I'm hurriedly loading up the trunk of the car.  Racing the setting sun in hopes of having the remains of its light to aid me as I put together the pop-up camper.  It was 7:00 when the urge to sleep under the summer sky hit.  And amazingly, the same little boy and girl who drag themselves to the car in the morning missing a shoe and wailing that they can't brush their own teeth without assistance have packed up two heaping suitcases and are carrying them on their backs like miniature Sherpas to the car within minutes of my mentioning the words 'camp out'.

A few hours later, I lay surrounded by the cool night air and listening to the music of crickets harmonizing with the deep respirations of my sleeping children.  I think of friends sending their littles off to college and sink into my covers holding onto the quiet chaos of this brief season.