Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Ties That Bind.

Watching the nine year old tie her shoe laces is the most excruciatingly painful thing. Not in a injury kind of way. It is an entirely emotional reaction. I can't stand it.

She has been able to tie shoe laces for a while. She can double knot proficiently - as long as the entire thing can happen in slow motion. A child tying their shoelaces is an instrument of parental torture. Shoes are the last thing to go on before we leave for anywhere. We usually leave for anywhere about ten minutes later than we needed to. This agonizingly, infuriatingly desperately slow process always happens in a time crunch. It is enough to make any parent explode with frustration.

This is why velcro was invented. This is why slip-ons are fashionable. These eminently easier shoes were created by a parent - I'll put money on it. So why even have laces? Excellent question. The nine year old's teacher insists on it. She's a very sensible, educated and rational person. She has her reasons - they are myriad. They are also solid. Even knowing these solid reasons I cannot be calm about the drudgery of laces.

Firstly, shoes are always removed laced up. No matter how much coaching I do on this subject I never fail to be greeted by a pair of double knotted shoes at 7.29am on school mornings. I sit on the bottom step watching the nine year old slooowly untie them. Then she attempts to insert her foot. It won't go in. She removes the shoes and slackens the laces.. She re-inserts her foot. Next she slooowly plucks the laces back into the tight position. She now gathers the laces to actually tie them. Often at this point she is distracted by something and pauses to examine it. I sit on the step slooowly pulling the hair from my head.
Eventually she is finished and stands up. Without fail one of the double knots slips out, or she discovers the laces are not tight enough. She starts again. The clock seems to ticks louder - reminding me that the bus will leave without us.

If you were to take my blood pressure at this point, you'd likely want to call 911 for me. I know you are wondering why I sit by. Here's why - I have tried to rally, to give tips and advice, to focus her to the task in hand. It all causes the process to stall. I have tried starting the process earlier. It's almost as if there is a time vacuum - if I leave five minutes it takes ten. If I leave ten it takes fifteen - and so on.

At certain times of the month my frustration verges on rage. The amount of physical effort I have to put into not tearing those laces out and hacking them up with scissors is exhausting. It's too early in the morning for me to have that kind of patience. I haven't even had a cup of tea. To make it all worse is the look on the nine year old's face. She knows the bus will leave. She knows the bus leaving is bad. She know I am watching. She wants to tie those laces quickly and well. She wants to please me. I want to pluck my eyeballs out but instead I murmur encouragements and smile proudly. This is parenting.


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