Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Quilt Making: a Metaphor for Parenting

Over the weekend Miss Kinder, who is nearly six, took a keen interest in the sewing machine. We took out a practice piece of fabric and got the basics down. Raising and lowering the arm, pressing the pedal with different amounts of pressure, and backing up. 

It shouldn't have surprised me that after fifteen minutes of practicing she boldly announced that she was ready to make a quilt. I am the Exact Same Way. Even so, my first response was, "well, that's a big project." I started suggesting to her that we try something small like a pillow or a coaster. She looked at me-- or should I say-- she looked through me. 

I then actually heard what I was saying to her. It sounded a lot like, "I know you'll never finish this project and don't think you can really do it." I wondered what the real harm would be in starting a quilt that never gets finished. I have about five pair of knitting needles with blankets, scarves and other sundries attached and in progress. I won't tell you about the shelves of other starters, in many crafty mediums. If she never finished the quilt, what of it?

It was an energizing feeling to acknowledge that I feel most comfortable when my parenting is focused on encouraging her actual interests and not, as an example, trying to cultivate an appetite for making coasters. And, big projects start the same as little ones. 

I retracted my let's-scale-back-your-thinking comment, and announced, "Hey! I've got precut squares we can use!" And so she began.


In the first session, she completed three strips of five pre-cut squares and sewed them together. Yesterday she did another two strips. She did the work of facing the squares together, putting them in the machine, and feeding the fabric through. My job was to cut additional squares as needed, and cut the thread for her. That is how this 5x5 square came to be.

The next part of the quilt, she informed me, was going to be a larger purple square going around the rim of this patchwork one. She showed me the fabric she wanted. I agreed to cut the squares, but only if she told me how many I had to do. So I drew a grid and she counted and gave me my orders. 


I'm completely impressed by her focus and her assuredness on what she wants this quilt to look like. The ball is in my court, and I'm game!

6 comments:

juanita de la vega said...

children are such amazing persons! They have their way and do what the instinct dictates them. They are the greatest artist in the world. Congratulations! you are a special mom and Miss Kinder is a fortunate girl!

Iris E. said...

So awesome! I am proud of both of you. What a cool thing to collaborate on.
Go Miss Kinder!
XO
Iris

skymring said...

She sounds exactly like my girl :)

Lisa said...

This is fantastic, such a creative little thing! Looks like you have a "Mini Peggy" on the loose.

Pink & Green Mama said...

What a great project for you two to work on together. You are a great mommy to let her try this one and to be so encouraging. It would be a lovely doll's quilt!

Lori said...

wonderful that you let her do her thing! :^)

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