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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

My children were not born in America.  If they ever chose to work in clandestine operations, one thing would give them away:  how they tie their shoes.  I have tried to teach them “the American way”, not knowing if this is how people tie their shoes in other countries.  I mean, I can’t very well accost children on the street and ask what is their preferred method in their land….

And when it comes to adults, many choose slip-ons of some sort, over, say, lace-up oxfords.  So unless the kids play sports as adults, this may never be an issue.  Then again….

I try to teach Mashenka to tie her shoes.  It sounds ridiculous, seeing that she’ll turn 14 in less than a month, but none of the kids can do it “the American way”.

We start with laces out, to the sides.

The first criss-cross, under and over tie is made.  This is the same for both the American and Russian systems.  All goes well.

Next I instruct her to make the right loop, or rabbit ear.

In the American way, the left shoelace is wrapped around the right rabbit ear, and the second rabbit ear pulled through, underneath, between the first and the looping lace.  Pull taut and voila`:  the bunny is there.

“No, Mama,” Mashenka shakes her head.  “I like my way better.”

Petya volunteers to show me how real Russians tie their shoes.

“Laces out to the side,” he rehearses.  “Then make the regular first tie.”

So far, so good.

He starts with the left rabbit ear, and, here’s where things change:  he makes a right rabbit ear.

Taking both rabbit ears, he ties them together, in the same manner that the first under and over tie was made.  In some ways, I think this method is easier, but the knot appears to be larger.  (Plus, our younger three kids always tucked the ends of their laces inside the shoe, under the top of the flap; now the girls don’t, in order to “fit in” to their new culture, while Petya never did.)

None of the kids can remember a story going along with their method, when I tell them about the bunny looking for his ears.  But they didn’t get a lot of one-on-one with anyone anxious to teach them anything in their early years….

I’ve heard of different ways to squeeze the toothpaste tube among couples, but did you know of the difference in tying shoes among children?



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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Gwendolyn says:

    Our kids have tried to teach my DH the ‘Russian’ way to tie shoes. The shoe-tying blind spot appears to be bi-directional! LOL.

    And my colleagues in the Netherlands used to tell me that, during WWII, the standard test to determine whether a person was a native speaker of Dutch or German was to ask her/him to pronounce the name of the city, “Venray.” Germans make it an initial ‘V’ while the Dutch get closer to a Russian ‘F’ on the first letter — or vice versa… So why not shoelace tying technique?

    • avatar admin says:

      Makes sense to me, Gwendolyn, about the letter difference. Growing up, believe it or not, my father would teach me how to tell where businessmen were from by what type of shoes they wore. (Why we couldn’t play catch or something else normal is beyond me. This was obviously long before imported shoes were available worldwide-!) It helped one day later in life when I felt that Russians (with no accent) were trying to recruit me for something or another. Long story. I took one glance at their shoes and almost passed out….

  2. Fascinating for me to see both of your techniques in such detail. It shows me several things:

    1. First method (American) = Standard Shoelace Knot;
    2. Second method (Russian) = Two Loop Knot;
    3. Both methods result in the identical finished knot;
    4. Sorry to tell you that both of you are tying your respective knots incorrectly! This results in a “Granny Knot”, which both sits crooked and which comes undone. To tie them correctly requires the starting knot and finished knot to be done in opposite orientations in order to “balance” the knot. It’s too involved to describe here, so check out the “Slipping Shoelaces” section of “Ian’s Shoelace Site”:

    Better still, maybe both of you could learn the “Ian Knot”, the world’s fastest shoelace knot:

    • avatar admin says:

      Thank you, Professor Shoelace, we will have to check those out! I knew there had to be an expert in the house. These almost look like knot tutorials for sailors, so I guess the moral of the story is, if we learn to tie our shoelaces, we may be “going places” in life…. 🙂

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