Taking shape and passing things on

The end of a drizzly half term day. The children have been squabbling and I have been quietly getting on with a job that has been waiting two years; making blinds for the bathroom.

Suddenly I was thinking of my grandmother. Often as young children my brother and I would go and stay for the weekend with her. The sewing machine would come out and at the end of a day with fabric trimmings, threads across the carpet and not-so-carefully-placed-pins we would have a new dressing gown, a summer dress or teddy bear. She continued to make her own clothes into her eighties, often working without a pattern to guide her, or modifying her own designs.

She was also a creative cook – bringing a taste of olive oil back from her war days in Italy to an England where you could only buy olive oil from the chemist. She wrote plays, she acted, she painted. There was always something going on. I will have a rummage and add a photograph later…

I wonder how much of this creative stuff is inherited?

Did I inherit a creative gene, or was it just nurtured by seeing that it was possible?

I’m tempted to think that it’s my daughter who has inherited it from me – she’s the one with the sketchbooks, glue sticks, endless art supplies and air drying clay rather too close to my clean sewing…. But today, once I forced them to turn off the screens, it was my son who invented the T-shirt folding machine (or possibly stole it from YouTube – no matter – he made it – and used it!) We were talking at dinner about how, when he was younger, he would take things apart to figure out how they worked.

There is a moment when you make something when it suddenly takes shape. With clothes it’s often turning out the first seam and you see the strange flat shapes of fabric transformed into three dimensions. Today it was sliding the base rails into the bottom pocket and suddenly there was weight and a finished edge. An addictive satisfaction from making things.

You don’t get either of those things with children – you can’t take them apart to figure out how they work, and I’m not sure there is a moment when suddenly you can see it all take shape. When they squabble I’m not very good at visualising the end result! Thankfully my non-creative husband has more faith that there are some good bits that will stick…

Today’s diversions have also included realizing the new card version of Monopoly is much more entertaining, and quicker, than the traditional board game and a few rounds of lying down balloon volleyball. A fairly regular fill-the-time wet holiday day but I wonder what they will remember in years to come, and what things they will pass on.


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