When Maya was 5 or 6 years old, I tried to teach her to sew. We used big needles and thread, and it was pretty much a failure. She didn’t have the patience, and then I lost mine. Hand sewing, I thought, was not in the cards for her. We tried some machine sewing and it was ok, but other interests held sway and the sewing fell by the wayside.
Today Maya is one week shy of 12 years old. And while I spent the afternoon running errands and going to Pilates, she and Ben were at home on their own. Maya spent the day sewing. By hand. Without any help. She found some tutorials on line, and a template, and spent 6 or 7 hours today making “plushies”. This was the result:
She was sewing, and I was learning a lesson. I realized that when your kids are very young (toddlers to maybe 5 or 6) and you feel that they MUST learn everything, and you feel you have failed (or at the least you are disappointed) when they not only don’t learn everything but don’t even want to….that feeling is best ignored. Go ahead and show them stuff but don’t be married to it; don’t feel that if they aren’t interested in it right then, that it’s over – forever. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but either way, it’s fine.
Today my daughter spent her entire afternoon and some of the evening sewing. By hand. Because she wanted to. Which is very cool.
But you know what? It would also be cool if she hadn’t and if my introduction to sewing all those years ago had been the only time she picked up needle and thread.
Parents stress a lot about their kids’ learning. Too much, I think. Maybe more so (at least for awhile) when you make the brave and unusual decision to allow your kids to learn outside of school; to be self-directed. Do that, and there’s no one to blame but yourself if things don’t go well. But most of the time, things go ok. Our kids grow and they figure stuff out and they ask for help when they need it. The best example we can set is to follow our own interests with passion and include them in our own excitement about life.
Rest assured, they will find their way. And who knows, one of their passions might turn out to be something they tossed aside at the age of five.