Jenny’s Special Present


Everyone was doing something special for Mother’s Day.

Daddy was making Mother a wooden sewing cabinet. Jenny’s big sister, Chris, was painting a picture of their house.

“Everyone has something special to give,” sighed Jenny. “Everyone but me.”

“Jenny,” Mother called. “Your friends are at the door. When you are dressed, you may go out and play.”

Jenny picked up her shoes and carried them downstairs. Except for tying her shoes, she could get dressed by herself.

Mother was at the sink, washing the dishes.

“Will you tie my shoes, please?” asked Jenny.

Mother dried her hands. “Oh, Jenny,” she said, making the laces into bows, “I’ll be so happy when you can do this all by yourself. That will be a very special day, won’t it?” Mother asked, giving Jenny a hug.

Jenny nodded her head and smiled. “Thank you,” she said and ran outside.

“Let’s race!” she called to her friends.

The four of them took off, running almost as fast as the wind. But a moment later Jenny tripped and fell. And off came her left shoe.

“Oh no!” Jenny cried.

Luckily Chris was in the yard. “I’ll tie it,” she said.

While Chris was tying her shoe, Jenny thought of Mother’s words: “I’ll be so happy when you can do this all by yourself.”

Jenny looked at Chris. “Now I know,” she laughed. “I know what I can give to Mother.”

“And what’s that?” asked Chris.

“If you’ll help me, I can learn to tie my shoes all by myself,” said Jenny.

“That’s a good idea,” Chris agreed. “We’ll practice every night after supper until you can do it by yourself. Daddy will be surprised too.”

That night after supper, Jenny ran into Chris’s room.

“Close the door,” Chris said. “We want to keep your surprise a secret.”

Jenny closed the door and sat down. She untied her shoes.

“First,” said Chris, “you cross one lace over the other and put the bottom lace around and down through the hole—like this.”

Jenny watched closely and then she tried it.

“Good,” Chris said. “Now comes the hard part. Make a loop with one end of the lace, wrap the other end around it, and pull its loop through.”

“That looks easy,” Jenny said. “I can do that.” But when she tried, her fingers and thumbs got all mixed up in the laces. When she pulled one of the laces through, there was no bow!

“I’ll never learn!” Jenny said, pushing her shoes away. “It’s too hard.”

Chris picked up her little sister’s shoe. “Yes, you will,” she said, “if you try again and again. It’s not easy to learn and you’ll have to have a lot of patience and practice, but you can do it.”

So Jenny tried again. And again. And again.

Soon it was time for her to go to bed, but still her fingers hadn’t learned to tie her shoes.

“Don’t worry,” said Chris, putting her arm around Jenny. “You have plenty of time.”

Even though Jenny practiced every night for the next few days, she still couldn’t tie her shoes. But now her fingers and thumbs weren’t quite so clumsy.

Two days before Mother’s Day, Jenny was practicing by herself. I have to learn soon, she thought. What other present can I give Mommy? “Over and through,” she repeated. “Loop, over, around, and pull.” She tried to do it like Chris did, but it still didn’t come out right. Over and over she tried. Each time she thought that she was doing it right, but each time something went wrong.

“Over and through,” she said, trying again. “Loop, over, around, and pull.”

Jenny stared at her laces, wide-eyed. “I did it!” she cried. “I tied my shoes!”

She danced and hopped and skipped all over the room. Her shoe didn’t come off. She had tied it just as tightly as Chris and Mother could.

“What’s going on up there?” Mother called from the kitchen.

Jenny laughed. “I’m skipping because I’m happy,” she answered. She wanted to tell her secret now, but she knew she had to save it.

Mother’s Day finally came. Chris helped Jenny polish her shoes. “This polish will make them look nice for Sunday,” she told Jenny.

On Mother’s Day, Chris and Daddy gave their presents to Mother first. Jenny saved her surprise for last. She sat down on the floor between Mother and Daddy and untied her shoes.

“What are you doing?” Mother asked.

Jenny didn’t answer, but only grinned as she started to tie her laces. “Over and through. Loop, over, around, and pull.”

“Jenny,” cried Mother, “you can tie your shoes! What a wonderful, wonderful present! Thank you.” And she gave Jenny a great big hug.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Len Epstein