“My son, Titus, has always had a difficult time tying his shoes and buttoning his shirts or pants. As in, he can’t do it at all. We have worked with him so many times over the years, trying to help him get his little fingers to do what they need to do but it seems that they can’t.
All of these lessons end in tears and frustration for both us, his parents, and him. Last year, to avoid the morning meltdowns, we decided to go back to velcro shoes and elastic waist shorts. This has worked well for us. Unfortunately, his feet have continued to grow and bigger shoes rarely have Velcro.
Unexpected Act of Kindness
Last week, I took the kids back-to-school shopping at Dicks Sporting Goods and Titus immediately fell in love with a pair of bright red Adidas shoes…with laces. As we walked to the seats to try them on, I immediately recognized what shoes with laces means to him and me each morning in the rush before school. We sat down, put them on, and Jay Jay, the salesman, told Titus, ‘Tie your shoes real fast, Little Man, and I’ll see if they fit you right.’ I told Jay Jay Titus has a hard time tying his shoes and that we were still working on it.
Jay Jay said, ‘I can teach you. My mom always confused me when I was learning from her, so maybe I can help you the way I learned.’ Jay Jay sat there, next to Titus, and explained to him about ‘Bunny Loops’ and where he should put his tiny fingers on those laces to get the best grip for the next step. Titus could not do it and tears began to fill his eyes.
At one point, Titus turned to me and said, ‘I’m the only 3rd grader in the whole world that can’t tie his shoes.’ None of this stopped Jay Jay; he sat there, patiently, and kept working with Titus telling him over and over, ‘You are going to get this, I know you are!’ For 25 minutes, Jay Jay gave my son lessons on how to tie his shoes. He even used a pair of shorts as an example of how to tie a bow.
I told Jay Jay he had the patience of a saint. Another customer asked him for some shoes in their size and on the way to grab them, I heard Jay Jay tell the customer, ‘I’m going to make sure this kid knows how to tie his shoes before he leaves!’ After asking my other children if they can tie their shoes and each of them confirming they can, Jay Jay said, ‘Teach your little brother, help him out. If you see him struggling, help him.’
As a mom, watching this unfold, I walked away and let Jay Jay do his magic. With tears in my eyes, I snapped a few pictures. And then it happened, Titus tied his shoes! He did it! After two years of tears and frustration, Titus tied his shoes because of a young man named Jay Jay who took the time to teach a little man that he could do it if he continued to practice!
We told Jay Jay we were thankful for him, bought our bright red Adidas with laces, and left. As soon as we got home, Titus sat down and continued to practice tying his shoes. And wouldn’t you know it, his older brother sat down next to him and encouraged and helped him when Titus got stuck. Titus has practiced tying his shoes every day since. I know on the first day of school next week, Titus is going to tie them all by himself with pride. And when they come untied at school as they inevitably will, Titus won’t have to ask his teacher for help.
I hope Jay Jay’s parents know they raised this young man right. I hope one day, 10 years from now, Titus will meet a little man that needs help tying his shoes and he can say, ‘I can teach you, Jay Jay taught me how to tie them like this and it worked for me!’ Thanks, Jay Jay.”
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