fit to be tied

I haven’t taught Philip how to tie a knot.

I buy him shoes with Velcro because I’m settling for the easy way out. I’m not suggesting that Philip can’t learn this skill, I just don’t know how to instruct him.

So I let him teach himself.

Are you familiar with his love of balloons? No? Check out this and this. What about his affinity for dangling objects? I suggest you look at the photos here.

When he asks for string for a balloon, he wraps it around the stem until it is secure. I haven’t taught him how to tie the string on. Wrapping his is go-to strategy for connecting string to various objects: toy cars, markers, craft projects, etc.

Until last night.

Last night, I heard a thunk followed by a whimper. Hoping to avoid a full-blown wail, I hightailed it to Philip’s bedroom. I found him in his closet standing on his toy chest. He had assembled a mobile of clothes hangers, one brown boot lace and string. His first attempt to hang  the mobile from the clothes rod had failed, hence the thunk.

By the time I entered, he was on his second attempt.

“Do you want Mommy to help?” I asked.

He didn’t even look at me. He was focused on the problem at hand. He realized the weight of the mobile required the string to be more secure. He wrapped the string around rod again, but this time he made a loop and then pulled the end of the string through it until it was tight.

He tied the string. On his own. And he taught himself how to do it.

string 003


12 thoughts on “fit to be tied

  1. This is a great example of the way kids learn when left to their own devices and allowed to experiment. Great!
    I don’t understand why the narrator (you?) was reluctant to teach him how to tie his shoes unless she/you has performance/instruction anxiety, which is very unusual for that task.

    Regarding writing, as a grammarian and former English teacher, I’m not a fan of sentence fragments (“Until last night”), one-sentence paragraphs (“So I let him teach himself”) and missing commas, but I imagine that you like the rhythm of that.

    So it goes. (LOL)

    Best to you!



    1. This anecdote is representative of my conversational writing style. The grammarian in you likely wouldn’t enjoy reading similar stories on my blog, otherwise I would refer you to them to explain the back story to my point of view in this particular post. I concede that I assume readers are familiar with me and my son, so I tend to leave out details that are needed by new visitors to appreciate why I would celebrate something like my six-year-old son learning to tie a knot.
      P.S. I took the liberty of correcting the spelling of your name.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I think you write beautifully. Being “perfect” grammatically from an English teachers point of view wouldn’t convey the same emotions and rhythm. Keep doing what you do! Philip is a little gem.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cyn, what a wonderful revelation for a child and a parent. You know, I can’t explain it but I was similarly hesitant to teach my son to tie his laces. It was my husband who stepped in and said I was ridiculous. He was probably right, but he did the teaching so that solved that problem! I think there are, however, many many things our kids either know or figure out on their own and maybe we get in the way of a lot of other things by being too quick to help them.
    Btw, I’m an English major and I like your writing style, too. Being hemmed in by rules stops the creativity and your true voice from shining through.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most educational research will support the idea that motivation is a factor in learning. I think my son needed to find a reason to learn this skill. It’s been the same with other developmental milestones. I need to let him do things at his own pace.


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