Sunday, May 9, 2010

Round-up

I am thinking this will be a round-up kind of a post -- collecting together some of my recent goings-on and meant-to-post-abouts.

First, this doll bed that we donated to our school's annual auction:

I had purchased the antique bed itself years ago on eBay. It was part of a set of two; the other I gave to my then-sister-in-law with a tiny handmade quilt on it. I'd always meant to do something similar for myself -- make a darling little quilt then use the whole thing for display. But, as it seems so often happens, I was confronted by the distinction between the life I imagine myself living and the life I actually live. This is the kind of thing the dog would find QUITE tasty, and we've got way more than enough *stuff on display* around our house, and what we really need is less stuff and more storage space for Legos. And I'm good with that. So this doll bed went to the school auction.

I did put together the quilt by (gasp) cutting up a very old quilt top and then hand-quilting it. The quilt top was also from eBay, and it also somehow belonged to some category of thing that seemed to make sense at the time.... It was (is) in wretchedly poor condition and so the best thing I could do was take out a useable chunk of it for this project. The end of the story is a good one, since the bed fetched $100 at the auction and made someone else happy.

In other sewing, I found myself making many of the costumes for Dean's school play (an original musical production of Alice in Wonderland). Dean made a trip to Salvation Army with me to thrift as much as we could, and we came away with a staggering number of *exactly* the right things. After a trip to the fabric store and lots of thinking, I created costumes for Dean, for Humpty Dumpty (see, it IS an original production...), the King of Hearts, two soldiers, and made/fixed parts for the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the March Hare, the Queen of Hearts.... I may be forgetting one or two others. Dean hit the nail on the head when, after I explained the help I needed from him, he said, "how is it that I THOUGHT I had volunteered to do one thing but all of a sudden I'm volunteered to do ALL KINDS of things!?!"

(Dean, as The Caterpillar, with his legs as played by a group of classmates....)

It's the nature of volunteering, I told him; you always have to be prepared to asked to do more, once you show a willingness to do anything at all. I also explained my philosophy that we each of us have a responsibility to volunteer, to be willing to take on the things we are capable of doing with the understanding that there will likely be more to do than we initially imagine -- but that's part of being a good person.

I did catch myself up as I worked my way through the sewing: "Oh, I'll have to take photos of the kids in everything I made and send them to mom because she'll...." Oh. Right. Can't do that. Mom's gone. I was able to bring out a smile from this very sad moment when I realized that making costumes for the school play, and fussing over small details to make them just right, is exactly the way both to honor her spirit and to recognize how she lives on in me. She was costume-maker, set-painter extraordinaire. She also regularly took on mountains of volunteer work and had a way of making good things happen, especially for children.

So it's all good.

Dean, meanwhile, was triumphant in collecting $280 for Dog Orphans through his participation in their annual fundraising walk. Can't help but be proud of this boy.


And yesterday, he played in his first piano competition. Here he is in one of the practice rooms beforehand:

He did not place, but he practiced hard in preparation, he worked through his nerves of having to walk through a very large theater and climb the steps to play a grand piano in front of judges, and he's eager to give it a go again next year. This was exactly what we were hoping for and so in our eyes the experience was a huge success. I'll tell you honestly that it is one thing to say to your child, "it's not about winning, it's about participating, so just do your best and everything will be fine -- and we are very proud of you for being willing to try this" -- and another thing all together to really and truly mean it. Meaning it means not hovering over practices, not insisting on longer practices, and not believing that your skill as a parent is somehow on the line. It also means separating your child's experiences from yourself -- it's his piano playing, not mine. I had to keep reminding myself of these things to keep myself honest.

And now, happy mother's day to all those celebrating.

3 comments:

Natalie said...

Jennifer.
This was such a delight... the details, the insight, the familiar bits, and the parts that made me nod my head, because I agree, or know what you mean.
Thank you for this post. It makes this day special. More special.

I could go on and on, but I get a bit emotional and just want to drop by for the afternoon... there is so much to say.

Lesley said...

Ooh yes, I'd like to drop by too. Put the kettle on ...
What a lovely young man your Dean is fast becoming. Is already.
I saw the costume pics on fb - so much fun. Dean is so musically and artistically involved, and then there's soccer as well. A real all-rounder!

Julie said...

Was thinking about you today and wondering how you were...

Dean has so many fun interests. I love the multi-person costume! :)

Isn't that strange feeling when you have that instintive reaction to do something for a loved one who's gone? I've done that quite a few times since my dad passed, as well....It made me glad when you talked about following in your mom's footsteps in her interests. There's something comforting in that, isn't there?