Em, do you need help with tying your shoes?
She nods slowly and
my hands are already at work on her sprawling laces.
We can move on.
Tying shoes on small feet: an efficiency
I try to remember to ask first
L insists he can do it on his own.
His fingers labor while his brow furrows
It takes time.
He sits in the middle of the tag game
tying his laces just like he learned
one bunny ear, two bunny ears…
C kneels beside him and offers to tie the other shoe;
L weighs the option.
The game swirls all around them both.
There they plant themselves
in communion with the trouble of laces
I look away
and they have disappeared into
the frenzy of tag
squealing as they dash and dodge
Shoe laces, fine motor skills, independence, asking for and receiving help. These topics populate my teaching days. When I squat down and perform the miracle of quickly tied laces, I am reminded of service as a point of connection. The child looks down at my busy fingers and can feel the care embedded in the act.
I ask if they would like some help tying their shoes. Some say yes, others no. I respect that. So often I am grateful for the material realities of learning. Shoe laces – tied and untied – ground me in my practice demanding that I remain observant, flexible and attentive to what the student in front of me requires: help or time or both or something else entirely.
*I found this draft in my pile. It was from September 14th, 2019. Reading it now provides a familiar comfort. Considering where we’ve been and now come back to, thinking about these small gestures matters.