Every other Friday marks the beginning of a long weekend here at our place. Shaun’s part time job allows him to clock 17 hours every other weekend. And since he works 6 hours every Friday, this means that twice a month, V and I get a whole lot of quality time. Alone. Together. Without a car to drive ourselves someplace where we’d be distracted from our often sizeable mother-daughter conflicts. So, we do projects. I find that if we have something unusual to do, V is less likely to get screechy, and I’m less likely to get screechy back. Sometimes we’ll make cookies, or paint dolls, or work in our studio on fabric projects.
In fact, yesterday was a fabric working day. I’ve been working on a very special quilt for Shaun for a bit over a month now, and V has been helping almost every step. She helped choose fabric. She was there when I cut the fabric, and though I sewed the majority away from her, she helped me lay it out on our dining room floor Friday. Laying out and pinning a quilt is my least favorite part of the process (aside from quilting the middle, shoving all that bulk through a machine…), and our dining room is less than ideal, because it’s just slightly smaller (with furniture) than a queen-sized quilt. But V was great. She pulled the backing taut, and helped roll out the binding, and oohed and ahhhed like a pro when I laid the top down. I started pinning in the center, working my out, and she largely hovered around the edges, talking to me and talking to her daddy’s new quilt. More than once I stopped and said “Now listen. Daddy doesn’t know about this, okay? It’s a SURPRISE. Which means we can’t tell him about it until he opens it on his birthday.”
Yes, she nodded. She just had a birthday, she reminded me, and she remembered being surprised. I was very heartened by this. Of course she knows about birthdays! Of course she knows the importance of surprise!
You all know where this is going, right?
Last night, while I made a run for milk and pull-ups (the two most necessary things in our house right now), V and Shaun sat in the TV room. The TV was off, and V was quietly reading books to herself while Shaun read something online. Suddenly (and Shaun of course told me this story, and he swears up and down that this revelation was unprovoked by him), she got up from her chair to stand beside him, and said “Mama’s making you a quilt. It’s a surprise.”
He looked up and said “What?”
She said “Mama’s making you a quilt. And it’s not a surprise…it’s a present.”
Now before you write in and tell me it serves me right for trusting a three year old with a secret…um, I know. But in some ways, it’s even better that he found out about it this way, rather than that boring open-a-present-and-suspect-nothing deal we attempt every year. This quilt’s story is richer for the way he learned about it, and it illustrates my sometimes ridiculous optimism.
He still can’t see it until his birthday, though. Besides, it’s just pinned. I need to spend several hours shoving that thing through the sewing machine before it’s ready to sleep under.
If you're reading this, Shauners, stop now. Don't look at the picture. I mean it!
For the rest of you, below is an early shot of quilt progress, laid out in our friend Kathy's front yard. I'll post a finished photo sometime after November 9. Unless V beats me to it.