Since Sam's birth in 1999, I have learned there is a certain progression for young boys as they grow up. The same can be said of young girls, but thankfully Barbies, make-up, and prom dresses wouldn't be part of any routine in the Steinmeyer house.
I hear boys may learn things a little slower than girls. Coordination comes a little slower than with young females. Boys' may take a little longer to walk, talk, and pee in the toilet than their female counterparts.
At some point, boys need to learn to tie their shoes. I remember as a youth, I struggled with the simple job of loops and knots. I definitely was slower than the girls, although I didn't know it. We only had boys in my family.
It's not as easy to get boys to concentrate on that job in today's youthful world. Blame it on a Swiss electrical engineer and his dog that went on a hunting trip. His name was George de Mestral. He is the man who invented Velcro.
After the hunting trip, George noticed seeds from a burdock plant were stuck to his clothes. They also were all over his dog's coat. After a close inspection under a microscope, George discovered the seeds had hooks that allowed them to stick to other surfaces.
That made him curious. Personally, I think he was just nosey. Whatever his motivation, it eventually led to the invention of Velcro. Today, Velcro is the biggest enemy to any father attempting to teach his son to tie his shoes. Why fumbled with annoying shoe strings when Velcro works just as well?
After that skill is mastered, as a father, you can focus on more important things. Take the birds and bees talk for instance; you will have time to plan that fateful day knowing your son will tell you, "I knew that two years ago, Dad."
Now Sam is a seventh grader. He didn't play football and only eighth grade basketball players participate in the junior high basketball season. But in January, an intramural program is run by Matt Houchin, the junior high physical education teacher and high school football coach.
When Sam decided not to play football, it came about a week into the season. I made him go up to Coach Houchin and thank him for helping him. I told Sam to explain why he was giving up football, despite the obvious reason he only weighed 73 pounds.
Coach Houchin was very good to Sam during their talk. Now Sam was part of the seventh grade intramural basketball program. Personally, I thought intramurals meant throwing a ball to the seventh graders and sitting back and watching the mayhem.
That's not how Coach Houchin runs seventh grade intramurals. Both the boys and girls spend a large amount of time practicing and running drills they will see again in eighth grade. In truth, Coach Houchin works the basketball players pretty hard and he should be commended for his organization.
I don't think there is any question that Matt Houchin is an excellent coach and educator. I just have one problem with all his policies; the boys have to dress up on game day. I don't mean just look nice. Coach Houchin demands a dress shirt and tie.
I now realize learning how a tie is knotted should be the next progression of youth. The trouble is I hadn't tied one of those silky pieces of material since my father's funeral in 2003. I don't even wear ties to funerals anymore. Will the dead think I'm sloppy?
I suppose I could have bought Sam a clip-on tie. I figured that plan ran the risk of putting Sam in the less developed category. I could have let him borrow one of Mr. Miller's ties he left behind after his retirement last year. That wasn't an option. I hadn't taught Sam how to loop and knot a tie.
Here's my problem with a tie. Does anyone think they are comfortable? I tried to wear them as I coached basketball one year. I always came home with an enormous headache. I blamed it on the tie, not the performance of my team.
If I lost a game and was wearing a tie, I was afraid to be left alone in a public bathroom.
It was way too easy to hang myself by throwing the tie over a bathroom stall. If I feel that way, how could I ask my son to wear one?
I suggested a nice sweater. How about sports coat with an open-collar shirt? Sam, my 13-year old, seventh grader wouldn't hear of it. Coach Houchin wanted a tie and a tie he would get. A quick trip to J.C. Penney's provided the proper clothing.
It was my responsibility to knot the tie for Sam. There wasn't time for a lesson. I couldn't have given one anyway. Shameful as it was to admit; it probably took me more times to remember the correct form this time than when I first tied one during my freshman year of college. Until that day at Kearney State College, I had worn a clip-on. Nerd!
By Gene Steinmeyer
The Maryville Daily Forum - Maryville, MO
By Gene Steinmeyer
Updated Feb. 7, 2013 @ 8:53 pm
» EVENTS CALENDAR
Connect with The Maryville Daily Forum - Maryville, MO