Tommy entered the kitchen, his head bent forward to watch his feet as he walked. His hair skimmed the underside of the kitchen counter as he cut the corner.
‘Grandpa, can you help me tie my shoelaces, please?’
‘Sure. Up we go.’ He lifted his grandson onto a high kitchen chair.
‘Grandpa, why is it so hard to learn how to tie shoelaces?’
‘That’s a good question. Everything we learn in life can be hard.’
‘Because it’s part of learning.’
‘Well, if everything was easy to learn in life there wouldn’t be any strength to our character.’
Grandpa slowly looped a shoelace as Tommy watched. ‘Let me put it this way,’ Grandpa continued as he twisted one end of the lace around the loop. ‘Do you remember when your daddy and I took you fishing last summer?’
‘Yes.’ Tommy’s face screwed up. ‘It was so hard to get the worms to stay on the hook for the fish to bite them.’
‘That’s right. Do you remember how many times you had to practise to get it right?’
‘Lots.’ The little boy nodded once and continued to study his grandfather’s hands.
‘By the end of the weekend you had it just right and you caught the biggest fish for supper.’
Tommy’s face beamed and revealed a toothy grin. He let his foot drop and held up the other one.
‘Your turn,’ Grandpa encouraged.
Tommy wriggled his foot onto his other leg and concentrated on the shoelace. It took a few minutes but eventually he made the final turn and pulled the loop through.
‘There will be other things in life you will need to learn and they won’t be easy either.’
Tommy sat looking at his shoes in thought. ‘Like what?’
‘Oh, all sorts of things, like how to know the difference between right and wrong, when to make an important decision and how to choose which decision to make.’
‘Because that’s life and we need to learn lots of things like tying shoelaces and how to fish. Making a decision when choosing what kind of friends we should have can be a tough one.’
‘That sounds really hard. Will I have to learn how to talk to grandsons too?’
The old man laughed. ‘Yes, but not for a while yet; that’s a grow-up’s lesson. You can wait for that.’
‘Look, Grandpa. We tie shoelaces the same. Maybe you practised lots too.’
‘Yep, I practised lots too but some life lessons took longer to learn than others.’
‘Can you teach me how to learn other life lessons, Grandpa?’
‘I certainly can but right now… why don’t we have some ice-cream?’
Tommy giggled and his eyes shone. ‘I guess we don’t have to learn how to eat ice-cream.’