The Art Of Mastery For My 5 Yr Old

How many things in life do we take for granted?

Things we do daily – sometimes even several times per day – that we don’t even think about. Usually it’s not until we can’t do them anymore that we realize how fortunate we are.

Or perhaps, as in my case, when you watch your child do simple things early on in their life do you begin to feel the same way.

There’s always a fine line as a parent between you helping your child, doing things for them, or you letting them figure things out for themselves. It’s very difficult to tell which option you should exercise and when.

So on Saturday morning, I sat and watched my Kindergartener for what felt like 5 hrs put on and ultimately tie her shoes.

This was a process. My approach is generally to let her try to figure things out for herself and after she’s tried her hardest and didn’t succeed, then I will jump in and give the extra boost.I look at it as me being her safety net so she doesn’t have to be afraid to try to do things herself. You may fall but I’ll catch you.

On this particular day she did not ask for my help. In fact, she was singing a song I couldn’t recognize from one of her favorite children’s programs.

She sat on the couch and began the process, as I watched her with an odd sense of pride that only a father to a 5 year old girl can boast.

Initially, everything was going according to plan. I watched her loosen the strings while holding the shoe in her hand in order to easily slip her foot in to the shoe. Great plan. She goes in for the kill. Everything seems lovely. She’s still singing her song. As her mother calls it, she has a very addictive personality. So not only does she sing the one song that’s in her head, very rarely does she sing the entire song. It’s usually one part (probably the hook) that she loops over and over and over (sigh) and over and over again. This is what she’s doing and she’s focused.

We’ve now completed hour one in the journey; at least that’s how it seems. She’s loosened the strings, placed the shoe on her foot, now she’s putting it on the floor to push her foot in. But she runs into her first real snag. The darn thing won’t cooperate. So instead of doing what adults do, which is put her finger in the back of the shoe to unblock the back making her foot free to slip in, she does what you would expect any 5 year old to do in such a scenario….

Yep, she starts trying to stomp it in, as if she’s trying to kill the crap out of an ant. This fills up the complete second hour of the journey as she has to follow the formula of stomp, adjust, stomp, adjust until it fits in.

I watch her in awe as I’m simultaneously laughing and maintaining my extreme level of pride for my baby. She’s still singing and not missing a step. She finally gets her foot in the shoe and now it’s time for the next step.

The actual tying of the shoe. This is where I intervene. Not to help. But to remind her that the couch is brand new so get your dirty shoe off of it, put your foot on the carpet and bend over to tie. And then I’m done with my cameo. Yeah, I know. Real Father of the Year. But I’m fascinated by her trying. And I know she wants to see it through. I’m cheering for her too.

She obeys without missing a beat or a note in her song (yes, she’s still singing through this entire process). You may have noticed in all pictures above her other shoe is still on the floor. All of this is the process for just one shoe.

She finally completes her mission while still singing. Following all of her hard work, she accomplishes a perfectly tied, perfectly centered shoestring knot….well, sorta.

Ok well maybe not close. But you know what? I was very proud of it. I watched her struggle and claw to do something that she would eventually conquer.

After seemingly another 2 1/2 hr session for her other shoe, and the same hook of one song sung for what felt like all 5 hrs, she had on two shoes with perfectly tied, perfectly centered shoestring knots….well, sorta.

Hmmm. Well next time she might just opt to put on flip flops.

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