This evening I was in C’s room with my sewing box. She has a pile of clothes that have needed to be mended for awhile, and since I was off work today because of the snow we got last night, I figured today was the day that I would finally get to this task.
C sat next to me while I was patching holes and darning socks. She kept calling the thread “fabric softener,” a logical confusion, if you ask me. She also insisted that the pack of needles was a comb, and it was difficult to convince her otherwise. It’s endlessly interesting for me to have some indication of how her mind works.
I pulled each spool of thread out of the box, measured a length and snipped it with the scissors, and then carefully inserted the thread through the eye of the needle, knotting it at the end. Something about this motion intrigued C more than usual. She watched with rapt attention as I mended her pants, and then she announced that she needed to sew too.
I watched her as she removed a spool of thread from the box. “This one is just right,” she’d declare, and then she would unspool a length just as I had done.
Finally, she looked at me very seriously: “Mommy, I need you to hold dis thread so I can cut it so I can sew.” I put my own sewing down and held her spool while she cut the length of thread with the scissors. She then set the cut length down next to her.
We repeated this action about 25 times.
Dis is sewing. I’m sewing.
The entire time this was happening, I was struck with how seriously she took herself. Being a few weeks shy of three, she takes a lot seriously, but her convicted innocence was more profound than usual during this sewing episode.
Was she sewing? No, she was cutting thread. That’s all. She wasn’t creating or mending.
But did she believe that she was sewing? Yes, with her whole heart and her whole mind.
While she didn’t create anything today and while what she was doing can’t be called “sewing”, she was taking part in the beautiful ritual of learning. I didn’t correct her when she repeated, “I’m sewing. This is sewing.” One of the greatest things about having children is that you acquire Buddha-like patience and tolerance even if you never wanted them in the first place. You learn the full story behind the concept of grace. You let them perceive thread-cutting as sewing because you know that they’ll eventually see the bigger picture.
Here’s my thought: can’t we all show that same grace and compassion towards one another? Patience doesn’t seem like something that should be reserved only for children, although they are certainly worthy recipients. No matter how old we are, we’re all learning and doing as best we can with the things we’ve learned thus far in life. Maybe instead of criticizing one another for the things that we don’t know or fully comprehend, we can remember that we’re all just learning.
We’ll all thread the needle eventually.