Feindre: to pretend in French
Cooking for the French & the word for "insipid, tastelss, flat"


A colorful slice of Sète, an historic port on the French Mediterranean















noun, masculine


Heading down the couloir, I hear a low hum coming from my daughter's room. Peering around the door, I find Jackie sitting on the floor, one leg extended, the other bent with the knee up. Her arms encircle the bent leg with its scraped genou and her fingers are caught in her shoelaces. With a sigh, she frees her hands from the tangle, only to pick the laces up again before repeating this mantra:

Pour faire un noeud
Je fais une boucle
Je tourne autour
Je passe par le petit trou
et je tire...

To make a bow
I fashion a loop
I circle around it
I pass through the little hole
and pull....

Jackie brushes a lock of hair away from her face and begins again. As my eight-year-old repeats the chant, I can just imagine the pressure she must be under. Earlier, her brother had warned her that if she couldn't tie her shoes by the time she was twelve, she would be la honte of middle school.

I think about my disservice to my daughter in opting for all those Mary Janes and tennis shoes with the Velcro closures. What was a helpful shortcut for a busy mother is now an honteux obstacle for her daughter.

Hands now clasped in supplication, I stand quietly by the door listening to a few more shoelaces-tying attempts:

Pour faire un noeud...
To make a bow...

I watch, front teeth pressing into lower lip, until the last line of  the mantra changes:

...et voilà!
...and there I have it!

With a sigh of relief, I slip away unnoticed and carry on down the hall, my heart swelling. That's my girl!

Thanks for your edits, here.

French Vocabulary

le couloir = hallway, corridor
le genou = knee
la honte = the shame
honteux (honteuse) = disgraceful                                             

: Hear my son Max pronounce the word "noeud": Download noeud2.wav
Hear Jackie say "un noeud de chaussure" (a bow): Download noeud_de_chaussure_2.wav

Also: le noeud papillon = bow tie; le noeud coulant = slipknot

une tête de noeud = an idiot
avoir un noeud dans la gorge = to have a lump in one's throat
un sac de noeuds (sack of knots) = something very difficult
faire un noeud à ses lacets = to knot one's (shoe) laces

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Lovely story! Sandra


I love this story. I think when you say "knee up" to help the reader visualize the scene it would be better to say "one leg extended, the other bent with the knee up" rather than put "knee up" in parentheses. I love the little chant she uses as a mnemonic device. I assume many French children are taught it to help them learn to tie shoes. So much fun to learn things like this.


This story reads well, I don't see any grammatical problems here. :-)

Bill in St. Paul

Great story! I agree with Leslie's comment.


Just wondering...should there be an apostrophe in the word Jane as in Mary Jane's?


I don't think there should be an apostrophe in Janes because a Mary Jane is a type of shoe. It doesn't belong to a real Mary Jane. This is simply a plural.

Here it's used in a Wikipedia article: Traditionally Mary Janes are a variety of shoe worn mainly by young girls. In modern times they are worn by women of all ages. Mary Janes are typically considered formal for girls and informal when worn by women.


Maybe a comma after couloir in sentence 1. Note the same construction in sentence 2.

Audrey Wilson

Delightful tale . How proud she must have been.
One suggestion:-
"I think about the disservice which I had done to my daughter---" Though this could be my English English as opposed to American English . As Bernard Shaw said," Two countries divided by a common language "!!


Heartfelt story -- It made me smile. Wonderful as is.


I agree with Leslie on "knee up."
No apostrophe in Mary Janes.
No hyphen in shoelace--it's one unbroken word.
(And my usual typesetting request for ellipses with spaces. . . .)

Olga Brown

I love the story.
I could imagine it so vividly.

Well done!

Betty Gleason

An everyfamily story beautifully told - as is.

Bettye Dew

"I THINK about the disservice I HAVE done my daughter..." With the present tense, you need present perfect. With the past tense, use past perfect: "I THOUGHT about the disservice I HAD done my daughter..."
Could also bypass the perfect tenses by saying something like: "I think about my disservice to my daughter in opting for ..."

Judi Miller

Great story! I think Moms can really relate to this - about all the 'trials' our children go through, hoping and praying they make it through and feel good about themselves!

I might change 'circle' to 'encircle' Her arms encircle the bent leg with its scraped genou

But, good as is!

Bruce T. Paddock

Good morning, Kristin –

I had a discussion with my wife on this exact same topic yesterday morning! I was thinking our daughter was the only 8-year-old who still couldn’t tie her shoes, and cursing Velcro all the while.

I feel better now.

Consider a comma after the introductory “Heading down the couloir.”

I agree with Leslie: “…the other bent with the knee up.”

You need a comma after “genou,” because what follows “while” is a complete sentence.

Carolyn is right: “Shoelaces” is one word.

Consider a comma between “the tangle” and “only to pick.”

Not to mess up the title of the piece, but in English, the tangled arrangement of laces that closes a shoe is called a “bow,” not a “knot.” In fact, a "knot" is something you try to avoid getting in your laces. Is “noeud” the same word for both in French? ‘Cause it sounds odd to hear a child talk about trying to tie a knot in her shoelaces.

Audrey is correct in saying “…the disservice which I had done…” is British English. You could go with “…that I had done…,” but I think it’s fine as is.

As everyone has said, there should be no apostrophe in “Mary Janes.”

Hey, look! “Shoe-lace” appears twice.

Bruce T. Paddock

Carolyn -

The book you referred to about ellipses (I'm sorry, I don't remember which one you said it was) must be an older edition. Computers allow you to type an ellipsis, all three dots, with a single keystroke, which is convenient but doesn't allow for increasing the spaces between the dots.


Hi Kristen,
No apostrophe in Mary Janes, it's a plural not a possessive.
Lovely story.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you all for these wonderful corrections! Fingers-crossed that the transfer from blog to manuscript goes smoothly. Sometimes the word stick together (in a mysterious blog-to-ms transfer glitch!)

Kristin Espinasse

... and mille mercis, Bruce, for bow. Ive changed the definition to reflect that particular meaning of noeud.

Jackie Smith

Very sweet story! My only suggestion is that I think it would read better to use the singular (shoelace-tying attempts) rather than shoelaces-tying attempts (too many s sounds). No big deal, just a suggestion.

BTW, there is a typo in paragraph 3 of the text for the sales page. It should read Kristin asks readers not Kristin ask.

karen mckeon wilson

Hi Kristin,

It is a wonderful thing you are doing, putting together all these precious stories. I love them all, and find them very visual, so that each time I read them I oould do a painting of the subject matter. I love this one about your daughter in her room trying to tie her shoelace, you outside and the different emotions on either side of the door. All the best of luck and love with producing your book,Karen.


Not sure if all of your edits are displayed online as you go, but following Bruce's suggestion for the translation of "noeud," and your subsequent change of the title from "knot" to "bow," two more instances of "knot" appear in the text:

Pour faire un noeud...
To make a knot...

Keep up the amazing work; the end is in sight!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Kathleen, for catching that! Ive replaced the knots in the story with bows.

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