Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lessons from My Daughter

My daughter is a Maker. Without question. Some days she feels extra crafty, but every day she has to make something. She's 8.
We find pop-up shops in our house all the time.
Over the Thanksgiving break, she decided to make gifts for every one of her classmates. She attends a traditional Montessori, so the 25 or so kids in her class are pretty evenly divided between first, second and third grade. Before she began producing the gifts, she created what was essentially a hand-drawn spreadsheet with all the kids' names, the type of gift she was going to make (earrings for the girls unless they are non-girly girls, felt magnets for the boys and anyone not getting earrings), and any necessary additional details, i.e. color, pierced or clip-on, etc. And then she made them. All of them. She wields a hot-glue gun like an expert. I was not required for any production steps, although I do get consulted occasionally for my aesthetic opinion - she most often rejects that opinion, but she asks.

She announced to me that she planned on bringing all the gifts to school on the first day back from Thanksgiving break. I told her I thought that wasn't the best idea, since we were still weeks away from Winter Break, no one else would be handing out gifts this early, best to wait until closer to Christmas, etc. She grudgingly went along with my verdict. And in the back of mind I was wondering why I cared so much when she took the presents to school. Why was I trying to hold back her generosity?

Then last week, in the midst of getting ready for school, she told me she was taking the presents to school that day. Again, I objected, this time suggesting that instead she ask the teachers that day when would be a good time to bring them and wait until then. This time, she was on to me. "I will ask the teachers first. But I'm bringing them - I'm sure I can give them out after circle."

"But honey, what if the teachers say that today isn't a good day?"

"I'll just save them for tomorrow."

At this point, I was frustrated and she was frustrated and I shooed her out of the room and off to finish getting ready. I knew at this point that I wasn't going to stop her from taking the presents to school. And I thought I needed to tell her why I was questioning her. I came into the kitchen and knelt down next to her chair. I muted the television, even though it was a violation of the sanctity of Martha Speaks and looked her in the eyes. "I want to tell you why Mommy was worried about you taking the presents to school today. Mommy was worried that it might not be convenient for the teachers, or that the kids might not understand why you brought presents on a Tuesday, or that you might not get the appreciation you deserve. That's the way my mind works - I worry about what might go wrong. I'm a cautious person."

She looked back at me. "I'm a cautious person too, Mom, but I don't worry about what I don't want to happen. I think about what I want to happen."

I want to be more like her.