Isaac waited by the front door for Charlie. He waited and waited. “Charlie? Are you coming?”
“I’ll be there in a moment,” Charlie called down the hall.
Isaac continued waiting. “How long is a moment?”
“Just a little bit longer,” Charlie called.
Isaac waited. “How long is a little bit?”
“Just a second.”
Isaac counted one-one-thousand-two and decided to go check on Charlie. He found him sitting on his bedroom floor tying his new sneakers. “Are you sure you want to wear your new sneakers to the park?”
Charlie tied his shoelaces in a triple bow. He looked up. “It would be a great way to break them in. All that running and climbing and jumping would be perfect.”
That made sense. Isaac smiled. “Great idea! Let’s go.”
“There’s only one problem,” Charlie said.
“Look.” Charlie lifted one of his feet. The shoelaces dangled to the sides of the shoe untied.
That didn’t make sense. Isaac thought back over the last two minutes. “I didn’t see you untie your shoes.”
“That’s because I didn’t untie them. The shoelaces keep untying themselves.” Charlie let his foot fall back to the floor with a thump.
“But you tied a triple bow!”
“I know.” Charlie sighed. “I’ve tried knots and giant bows and shoving the ends inside my shoes and tying the ends around my ankle, but they just won’t stay tied at all.”
Isaac sat down next to Charlie. “This is a puzzle. Can I try?”
“Sure.” Charlie stretched out his foot so that Isaac could reach the laces.
Isaac rubbed a shoelace between his fingers. It felt like a normal shoelace. It wasn’t waxy or slippery or oily.
He tied the laces in a double bow. As soon as he let go of the shoelaces, they slowly fell out of the bow somehow. It didn’t make any sense. He tried other knots and bows. When the laces fell out of a series of eight knots, Isaac knew there was something wrong with the laces.
“Do you think they’re unlucky shoelaces?” Charlie asked.
“Have you tried wearing your lucky socks to cancel out any bad luck?”
Charlie frowned. “I thought about it, but what if it works? If I had to wear my lucky socks every day to keep my shoes tied, I’d wear out my lucky socks.”
Isaac smiled and patted Charlie’s shoe. “I think it would be better to know either way. If it’s bad luck, maybe we can find a way to make them lucky. How did your lucky socks get lucky?”
“I don’t know.” Charlie thought for a moment. “I think I just noticed that good things happened when I wore them. Do you think having good things happen can make things lucky? Or maybe doing good things like helping people?”
“That’s a great idea. Maybe we can test that later. Do you want to try your lucky socks now to see if they’ll help you shoelaces?”
“Okay.” Charlie took off his shoes and walked to his dresser. He changed socks and returned to put his new sneakers back on. He tied the laces in a double bow. The laces fell out of the bow as soon as he let go. “I guess they’re not unlucky.” Charlie changed his socks and put his lucky socks away.
“Maybe they’re just really, really stubborn.” Isaac looked at the shoelaces. “Do you think it would help if we asked them nicely to stay tied?”
“It’s worth a try,” Charlie said. He sat next to Isaac and put his shoes back on. He looked down at his shoelaces. “Hello, new shoelaces. I’m Charlie. I’d like you to stay tied, please, until I’m ready to take my shoes off. If my shoes don’t stay tied, my shoes could fall off or I could trip over you and fall.”
Charlie tied the laces into a bow. The shoelaces stayed tied. Charlie and Isaac waited. One-one-thousand-two. The shoelaces were still tied.
“It worked,” Isaac said at last.
“Thank you, shoelaces,” Charlie said. He stood up and walked in a circle. “They’re still tied. I think we can go to the park now.”
Isaac stood up with a smile. “I’ve never seen polite shoelaces before.”
Charlie shrugged. “Maybe the shoelaces are polite, or maybe please and thank you really are magic words. I don’t know. I’m just glad my shoes are staying tied.”
“Me too,” Isaac said. “Let’s go to the park.”