Lately, it seems like I can’t turn on the television without seeing a back-to-school ads. Despite the fact that advertisers would like nothing more than to separate me from my money, I’ve never been keen on loading up on new school clothes for M. For one thing, he tends to have a growth spurt in the early fall, so buying a lot of stuff in the late summer doesn’t make a lot of sense. Plus, I prefer to buy stuff on sale throughout the year. I probably don’t spend any less money, but by spreading my purchases out over the year, it seems a little less painful. Kids clothes, even on sale, are expensive. And M, being an active kid, is hard on his clothes.
The one thing I do buy for M before school starts is a new pair of shoes. Since he was little, M has been very fussy about what he wears on his feet. He doesn’t care so much what they look like, but they need to “feel right, Mommy.” I gave up buying cheap shoes, because they never seemed to fit right and both M and I would end up frustrated. Also, as a rule, cheap shoes don’t last through the school year. So every August, M and I go down the street to the high-end kids’ shoe store, pick a number and wait to try on shoes. The last couple of years, he has been keen on Geox with flashing lights., but he’s very hard on his shoes and they haven’t held up very well – the velcro stops sticking by about March and then M complains he can’t do up his shoes.
This year, M didn’t want Geox – apparently they let sand and water in. He also didn’t want shoes with velcro. No problem, except M didn’t know how to tie his shoes. I learned to tie my shoes before I went into Grade 1, but that was before the advent of velcro closures for shoes. In the primary grades, most schools prefer that the children wear shoes with velcro, because they are easier to put on and take off. From what I could tell from a quick look around the shoe store, girls’ shoes are more likely to have laces than boys. Nearly 3/4 of the boys’s shoes at the store had velcro. My husband jokes that because of velcro shoes, there will be a generation of boys heading off to university, who can’t tie their own shoes.
M would only consider shoes with laces, including a pair of Converse (they got rejected early on, as being “too tight”). One of the clerks showed him how to tie the laces. For someone who had never even expressed any interest in tying his own shoes – he always asks his dad to tie the laces on his soccer shoes – he caught on very quickly. He hadn’t fully mastered the technique by the time we left the store, but he was able to tie the laces in a rough bow. I expect by the time school starts, he’ll be a pro.
It may seem strange that M would suddenly decide on shoes with laces. But this is M’s modus operendii – when he decides to do something, he does it. If I had suggested last year that he try shoes with laces, he would have refused to even consider them. This year, apparently, he was ready. As I remarked to him as we were walking home from the shoe store, he can do pretty much anything once he sets his mind to it.
I have been thinking about how we could build on the success of shoe tying and apply it to the upcoming school year. More specifically to writing, which M really struggles with. In Grade 6, he will be expected to write even more than he did last year, in Grade 5. it is pretty common for a child with ADHD to have difficulty writing – it’s hard for M to get all the thoughts in his head out through the pen/pencil and onto the paper. Using a computer in class does help, but based on M’s recent psycho-educational assessment, his writing is significantly below grade level. Most times, he just shuts down and refuses to do the assignment. As I’ve explained to him, this makes it hard for his teacher to evaluate whether or not M understands the material. Fortunately, his school doesn’t advocate homework, because working with him to complete even the occassional written assignment is stressful for everyone.
I suggested to M as we were walking home from our shoe shopping trip that once he decided to tackle his writing, there would be no stopping him. I’m not sure he was totally convinced, but school hasn’t started yet. We’ll keep working on it. When he wants something, M’s pretty amazing. Today, shoe laces, tomorrow a novel. Well, maybe a full paragraph with compound sentences.