Monday, May 31, 2010

The Adventures of Iron Man (shoes)

My four year old son got his first pair of shoes with laces the other day. It had less to do with wanting laces and more to do with wanting Iron Man shoes that light up when you run. I was somewhat hesitant, fearing countless painful scenarios of trying to rush out the door while facing the inevitable, “No! Let me do it!” I also thought his preschool would be a little less than thrilled, seeing as the kids are going in and out of the building about 400 times a day.

Sure enough, each time we headed out the door he would want to try and tie his shoes. I usually gave him three tries and then did it myself. I hated to curb his independence and desire to learn a new skill, but as usual, we didn’t have the time to practice for a half an hour when we were already five minutes late for swimming lessons. I would kick myself because I kept intending to find a non-rushed time to encourage him to practice, but it always slipped my mind.

The other day my son and I were at the YMCA. I had been having “one of those days”—which for me usually devolves into a pathetic self pity. I was having a bad work day, my bad back was causing me grief and my wife and I had engaged in one of those stupid fights that only married couples can have. I had just finished a workout and had fished Connor out of the swimming pool. I got him showered and dressed and was about to begin putting my clothes on, when I actually remembered.

“Hey, Connor. Why don’t you practice tying your shoes while I get dressed?”

“Ok, Daddy.”

I finished toweling off and put my clothes on. As I was pulling my sweater over my head, Connor said, “Daddy, Look!”

I looked down to see my beautiful boy beaming and a perfect little bow on his shoes.

“Connor, you did it!” I gave him a huge hug. “Great work!”

“Let’s go home and tell mommy.” He said.

He raced out of the change room and down the hall. He was telling every stranger he passed the huge news.

“I just tied my shoes!” he boasted. Some people got it an offered an enthusiastic, "Way to Go!" Others just shrugged and grunted something inaudible. The front desk staff all gave him high fives.

Talk about living vicariously through your children! I was filled with such joy watching him. Not so much at the impressive feat of learning to tie his shoes, but because he was brimming with pride in himself and was giving in to unabashed elation.

Needless to say, my wallowing dissolved. Once again, my son had given me a gift without even knowing it.

How can you feel sorry for yourself when your little boy is over the moon?

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