Tying shoes: One of the many joys of teaching Kindergarten.

“Have you had those in your mouth??”  

There was a list of questions I would automatically recite to each Kindergarten child whenever a foot was shoved in front of me, as if they were putting their left foot in, for the Hokey Pokey. On occasion the list would be omitted, and I would immediately begin tying, doubling the knot in hopes of preventing a repeat performance of the Shake-It-All-About. That would be when the shoestrings flopping about those small feet would be obviously dry. 

HOWEVER, if the shoestrings were WET, the list of questions was absolutely, positively mandatory. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. 

The hands on the clock would often indicate the intensity of wet shoestring interrogation:

Wet shoestrings before 10:30– Minor questioning should suffice. “Have you had those in your mouth?” If head bows and no answer, its definite.  Shoestring sucker, guilty as charged. I would always respond with, “Now what makes you think I would want to get my fingers all tangled up in those strings after they have been in your mouth??”  I would give them a “look” as I walked over to get some paper towels, and try to sop the spit from the soggy strings.  Then, post spit sopping, I would tie the strings, reminding them that if this happens again, they had better have a tiny hairdryer in their backpack to dry those strings before Mr. Creel is going to be tying them again!  Oh, yeah, and then I would go wash my hands. With soap.  

Wet shoestrings during recess– Mud puddles the most likely culprit, immediate shoe tying could commence. Or, if they looked most questionable, out would come the Kindergarten teacher’s Recess Mantra:  “Find a friend!”  Hey, better their fingers than mine! 

Wet shoestrings upon returning to classroom after recess–ALERT!! ALERT!! DANGER!! DANGER!! FULL RANGE OF QUESTIONING MUST, I REPEAT MUST BE USED!!   Reasoning behind this extreme precaution?  Kindergartners stopped by the restroom prior to returning to the classroom after recess!  Boys receive full range of questioning, especially those whose shoestrings are most always in the state of being untied.  “When did your shoestrings come untied? At recess? In line? Were they untied in the Bathroom? Did you stand up or have to sit down?”   Sigh…at this point, I know that “Find a friend” would be shirking my teacherly duty, so I give the “look,” prepare multiple thicknesses of paper towels and do my best to get those yellow shoestrings into some semblance of affixment, then disinfect my hands for the next 30 minutes.

It is usually at a sobering moment such as this, that I remind the class that Mr. Creel ONLY ties shoes until Christmas!  Upon first announcement of this shocking revelation, eyes pop wide open and a few gasps can be heard. I ask those who have already mastered this intricate skill to raise their hands. Those still struggling, glance around the classroom, making note of hands raised.  “See those hands in the air children? They will be your best friends in January!  So make shoe tying your nightly ‘homework’ or look in to the possibility of Velcro.”

Now, boys and girls, it is rest time…  Please get out your rest towels while Super Sleeper decides who he will rest with today.  WHAT is that I see in your mouth??  Don’t think I’m going to tie those again today….

P.S. Don’t EVEN get me started on what happens when Little Miss “I’m too cool for school” ties her shoestrings T O G E T H E R.  It’s not pretty I tell you…not pretty at all….

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