Children's Fashion Workshop



I'm Erin.  Gardening addict, incurable maker, insatiable reader, closet author, chronicler of childhood, wanderer, wonderer.  I'm glad you've come to sit a while with me.

Instagram @ewatsonhowe


Offhand comments:

9.y.o.-"I have three ant bites.  Can I use this stuff I found in the first aid kit on them?  It's called ant-acid." 

9.y.o.-"It would be awesome if we had a 3-d printer because then we could print anything. a tiny little model of Angkor Wat!"

« road ends | Main | the wall »

her box

When it became evident that yes, we really were going to move into this home from our rental, almost all activities stopped except packing.  The music of the tape gun and the rhythm of stacking boxes became our song and dance for the week we had between knowing we were moving and the actual event.

I've never been good with transition.  I cling to the old like it's a life raft and act like the new is sure to be a deadly waterfall looming around the corner.  Nothing good can come of it, I'm always sure inside.  For the most part, I've felt a solidarity on this account with the toddlers we've moved around the country so ungently.  They don't seem to do so well with change either.  When we pulled up to a new home after a trip to a new library years ago, and the child in the carseat behind me burst out with an angry, "No, not this house!  I want to go home!" I completely understood and agreed.  It doesn't matter so much what or where home is, just don't change it on me all the time. 

So I expected to have this same kind of difficulty and sorrow with our 4-year-old.  I expected tears and struggle and somebody to pout with. 

I'll have to look for somebody else. 

For a couple of days she watched us pack.  She remembered packing before, in California, and knew that we were moving again.  I expected any moment for her to understand and object, because that's what small children do.  Instead, among our things, she found a little box.  It had snowed that week, and friends down the street had given her a pair of hand-me-down mittens to wear.  We had no mittens on hand, not having needed them for the last five years, and by the time it began snowing, the stores were clean empty of them.  She was so proud of them, they were pink, and tiny, and she wore them nonstop, even when the snow stopped and melted away.  

Now, having observed and considered what we were doing, she took her precious pair of mittens, put them in this little cardboard box, taped them up, and mothered them around.  When she went up to bed she had to make sure the box was with her.  In the morning she had to find the box and make sure she knew where it was.  In the shuffle of moving, the box was misplaced a time or two, and she was upset until it was found and sitting next to her again.  

The first night we slept here, the first night the house was ours, we had cleaned our rental house until late, and she was asleep when we arrived.  Her daddy carried her inside, and she woke up, looked around, and asked for her box.  It was found, sitting on the floor in front of her carseat.  She took it, marched into the house, tore off the tape, unpacked the mittens and put them on, heaved a great, satisfied sigh, and went up to bed.  She had moved.  

I had heard, before I had children, that they would astonish me.  I knew this and know this in an academic sense.  And yet they continue to do it.  How do some of us come with this built-in resiliency and understanding?  Where did she get the calm that so many of the rest of us lacked?  And, most of all, how do I learn? There was no life raft for her, no waterfall.  Moving wasn't a big scary thing.  It was just a pair of mittens and one little box.


Reader Comments (4)

I am only realizing in this middle aged part of my life how TERRIBLY I transition. I am not sure why this is. Sure, I lived in a number of houses during my young life. Sure, my parents weren't perfect. (So I can blame all sorts of things on them. ;) But really, why am I so undone by change? I want some of her resiliance!

I also want to be able to go back in time and have greater compassion for my children, many of whom didn't transition even well from one activity to the next. Poor kids, I didn't know I gave that to you...

March 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

I remember worrying over how I would pick up the thread of my old life after my second child was born. Would I somehow lose myself in the giant experience that is giving birth. Perhaps I really feared losing my toddler relationship - fear can be kind of nebulous... I remember climbing in our car with Baby #2 and my toddler in the back, my husband starting the car...and Sesame Street music picking back up just where it had left off when pregnant me last drove my toddler somewhere. The thread was unbroken! If we can carry around close to ourselves the things that don't change when change is coming, then we can feel secure? Seems like your daughter has a "hook" that bridged the gap for her. I like that!

March 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTara

Cindy-So true. I think sometimes it's hardest to have compassion when they display my own failings. Maybe because I'm trying to be strict with myself to learn to do better, and when I see (insert undesirable trait here) raise its head I have no patience with it, whether I see it in myself or someone else. Sigh. It's all that balance of self-discipline and self-compassion, which you have to practice at the same time as you're raising children who each require a different balance of discipline and compassion. This is not. Easy.

Tara-I love the image of a thread. Yes. That perfectly describes how she moved so seamlessly. I think fear is often only powerful because it's nebulous, and we're really not sure what we're in for. But having a thread to hang onto, even if it's just a thread, can get us through. Thanks for sharing your story. I'll carry it around with me and think about it now.

April 1, 2015 | Registered CommenterErin

Again, I WISH there was a way to like this post! <3

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>