The Knotted Shoelace and the History Lesson

Well, all right, not necessarily a true history lesson, but certainly a history lesson steeped in legend.

My youngest has a problem with his shoes, namely the tying thereof. As he walks around with untied shoelaces, he pulls them out of the eyelets of the shoes so that he often has both ends of the lace on the same side of the tongue, which means he cannot effectively tie them anyway. Of course, the aglets have been worn away through misuse-namely, the not-tying.

So today in church, he asked me to help with his laces. One of them had a tight knot in it that precluded relacing, as the knot was bigger than the eyelets through which he would have had to thread it. So he enlisted my help with it: “Dad, can you get this knot out?”

I helpfully agreed, but the knot was too tight for me to quickly untangle without tweezers. So I decided on a history lesson instead.

“Do you know who Alexander the Great was? A Macedonian general who conquered a lot of the ancient world. He came to the Gordian Knot, which legend said the person who solved it would conquer Asia. And you know what he did?”

“What?” he asked.

He took out his sword and cut the knot,” I said, and I took out my pocket knife and cut the lace just below the knot.

He might actually remember this story then. But I hope the test on the famous almost-Greeks of the B.C. era comes soon in his fourth grade class. Because it’s entirely possible the only thing he’ll remember is that his father carries a pocket knife.

Because he’s certainly not going to remember to tie his shoes.

(For further reading, here’s further reading on the Gordian Knot.)