Friday, September 24, 2010

Passing skills to another generation

It has been a very busy three weeks here at Chez Pooh with the start of school for all inhabitants.  The summer flew by and I did not get around to many of my plans.  But then the lack of a real schedule is one of the joys of the summer!

One of my goals during the summer was to start teaching Offspring some basic life skills.  Like sewing.  Now, some people would argue that males will not use sewing skills, but as we all know, a lack of basic knowledge can limit the possibilities before they even begin.  Pants may need hemming, buttons always fall off.  If you can sew, home decorating becomes a whole lot cheaper and oh, the possible Halloween costumes (and I have had to be very creative to meet the imagination of Offspring)!  Okay, so, it didn't happen this summer.  Well, it sort of did.  One August afternoon I drew a pattern on a sheet of cardstock, removed the thread from the sewing machine, put in an old needle, and introduced terms like "pressure foot" and "seam allowances".  I remember doing this when I started in 4-H in the fourth grade.  I made my pattern a little more interesting by including a favorite toy logo.  There were lots of corners and curves, long lines and short.  And he did great!  Didn't stray off the lines hardly at all!  Not that that was any surprise-the kid has a phenomenally long attention span (which made kindergarten very difficult) and the attention to detail that plagues his parents and saturates his genes.

He was so excited that he was immediately asking to sew on real fabric.  So I dug out a long skinny strip and let him learn to hold two edges together while feeding the fabric.  But the straight stitch was not good enough so it was on to the zigzag.  His fascination with the only two buttons for fancy stitches were next on his agenda.  While the interest was there, I wanted to run with it.  So what to do next?

His Aunt Pogonip at Meadowsweet Cottage had made a pillowcase for him not too long ago and I thought that would be a good place to start.  Straight lines, no gathering, not too much fabric.  So, just before school started, we headed off to the land of fabric and he picked out three prints that fit his requirements for the beginnings of a new bedroom theme.  With help from Robin's pillowcase tutorial, it was so very easy.  So here is the finished project, complete with french seams, I will have you know.  I will admit that I cut the fabric, pinned everything in place, did the ironing, and helped with the stitiching over the points where there were ten layers (or more) of fabric.  So he didn't totally fly solo.  If I was a judge at a county fair, he would definitely earn a blue ribbon!  I'd go so far as to say he did an out-of-this-world job!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to school

Yesterday morning Offspring stood on the stairs for those "first day of school" photos that we take every year.  But instead of a little boy, it was a young man standing there.  These days when I turn to look at him, his eyes are almost (but not quite) level with my own and I don't have to bend over to hug him.  His feet are now officially longer.  He has long since surpassed eating the same amount that I do.  The voice is starting to deepen and I have to caution him that he is much stronger now and must be more gentle with his mother.  The strongest indication of the little boy disappearing was the total lack of hesitation walking into school.

Some moms would lament that their "baby" is gone.  While I may comment that he is not a baby any more in conversation, I am quite pleased to see him more grown up and to see how he is growing up.  All that time and love invested in him when he was little is paying off.  I personally think he is a great kid.  He certainly is not a "typical" teenager (well, rousting him out of bed was a tad more difficult than usual!).  You can hold conversations with him.  He looks you in the eye.  He will act excited, rather than bored or sullen.  And he is nice!  Death knell, I know, when said about boys. But I am raising someone's future husband here and I think that matters!

Back to school always means that I am less "Mom" and more "adult".  I get back to work, have time to do chores uninterrupted (well, mostly), and have more contact with other parents and adults.  And every fall I feel an urgency to tackle as many projects that didn't get done during the summer as possible, before the weather turns uncooperative.  Hey, it has been uncooperative practically all summer, what am I saying!  So maybe the painting I had hoped to do won't get done.  Maybe there are still piles of papers to sort.  If I can just finish the old paint jobs I will be satisfied.  The ones where just one or two things that didn't get finished finally get completed (the bathroom moulding, the garage ceiling, the house numbers). If I can sort through one more box of old paperwork or finish a sewing project here and there, I will feel a sense of accomplishment.  And maybe, just maybe, saying no to one particular volunteer project will make that happen.

Addendum:  I had prepared this post yesterday and just wanted to add a photo later in the day (when the backpack was here). But my feeble memory finally kicked in and I remembered that after school on the first day back is not necessarily a pretty picture. So instead of taking a photo and blogging (please forgive me!), I planned and prepared for making the rude awakening of back to school a little less shocking. After a trip to the grocery store that meant a special issue of National Geographic waiting on the table with fruit quickly washed and ready for a snack.  With the first course of the snacking (there were 3!), I focused on heartier fare with a second course of fruit ready when the first was inhaled. Dinner included green bean casserole and other favorite comfort foods.  I commiserated over the numerous algebra problems and the first current event assignment, while providing lots of hugs and as much positive energy as I could muster.  I didn't try to accomplish anything else during this time except helping my teenager adjust to the loss of personal time.  To his credit, he spent more time on his homework than complaining (a first, I think), staying focused and even enjoying the mental exercises.  It helped that he was motivated to finish in time to watch White Collar (thanks to the joys of the DVR).  And, you know, it worked.  All those little things boosted the spirits of my introvert and made for a much more pleasant first day of school.  I even got to hear what went on during the day!  I wish I could remember that I need to be more "present" and less "productive" in order to be a good parent!  So I tweaked this entry for "after the fact" and have to just accept that if this blogging is to work for me, I have to do what I have to.  And for me, family come first.  Always has, always will.