Girl one leaves a note with doodles on it lying around. It is summer. Still more than four months until her birthday. It says:
Dear Birthday Fairy,
I would really, REALLY like a sewing kit for my birthday.
Her Nana finds the note. Charmed, she buys a small sewing kit. Thread, scissors, measuring tape, tracing paper, thimble, a pin cushion, needles. The early unexpected gift is a hit. I gently discuss needles, their dangers, merits, and again, their dangers. I push the information through into the floating dreaminess of Girl one’s aura and hope for the best.
I find a needle on the floor, review danger speech, and offer warning.
I sit on a couch at night and find needle with my hand. I review speeches on danger and offer a stern warning. In the next 24 hours, I find more needles but it is sworn with impassioned oaths that these are a result of previous sins . . . which although not remembered or intentional were clearly committed prior to the stern warning.
Three days later, I have found more than ten needles. Entire kit is removed to my room for a time out.
Kit is returned. Speeches reinforced. Shortly thereafter more needles are found. Later, lying in her bed sobbing softly, she is the poster child for broken hearts.
I know others are partly to blame. And truthfully, the needle dispenser is a lousy design intended for vigilant adults with long bony fingers, not enthusiastic kids passing it around for a home grown sewing circle. I make adjustments on the dispenser and impose new rules about sharing.
The sewing kit lives in Girl one’s room, but the needle dispenser lives in mine. I think things are going better. Then I find a needle. An hour later, Girl one finds another one, then another. This time the tears are a torrent.
I’m not responsible enough to have a sewing kit, she whispers. Take it. I love it so much, but I am not a responsible person. I’m not old enough to have it. (Extreme weeping) I am just not a responsible person.
Although I had been thinking all of those things, I didn’t want to say them anymore. In a moment of insanity, I said I wasn’t taking her sewing kit away.
In the world, I said, there are people who love beautiful things and people who are very practical. Mostly they are not the same people. Without the practical people, we would be hungry. We wouldn’t remember where the food was or when to buy it. But without the people who show us the beauty in the world, we would be a different kind of hungry. Without the beautiful people, why even bother getting up for breakfast?
Girl one gave me a very grateful hug and told me that she was tired and needed to go to sleep now.
I hope the family does not soon resemble Swiss cheese. But if that’s the cost of art these days, I guess I’m in. As a nod to the practical people, the dispenser doesn’t get dispensed anymore. Just one needle to one child. At kitchen table only.