Cross stitch and gingham

Last time in Lincoln I slept on the pillowcase I made in the mid-Sixties. It's a bit threadbare, but the embroidery is stonger than the gingham. I remember it being a difficult project, so I must not have been very old. Later I made cross stitch pillowcases as gifts, stitching my friends' names on their cases.

Cross stitch requires perserverance and patience for the student and the teacher. I'm beginning to understand those Quaker samplers! Embroidery is also a very calming, focusing practice for students. Our kids need projects that counter balance all the point/shoot/instant/gratification/flashing/images of our current technology and culture.

With my ET tremor it takes perserverance to thread needles for the kids. Fortunately, they are doing most of their current embroidery project with their classroom teacher. The boys are every bit as into it as the girls, and they need the fine motor skill development. They are making lovely pictures, not simple cross stitch. If your child doesn't want to sit in a treehouse and embroider this summer, maybe they need their own special shady corner of the garage to paint scale models.

Learning to separate two strands from the six-strand embroidery floss was a personal goal as satisfying as learning to shuffle cards, roast the perfect marshmallow, use a key to open a lock, cut paper snowflakes and hearts, play jacks, ride a bike, tell time, tie a square knot, address an envelope, or scoop ice cream. I was on top of the world when I learned to make Jello Instant Pudding in a double boiler, and to open a can of tuna. Making french toast and grilled cheese sandwiches for my family gave me enormous satisfaction. I was proud to learn to whistle, light a match, identify butterflies, prune a rosebush, and jiggle the handle on the toilet so the water would stop running! Reeling in a fish was the best of all.

My sons loved learning to make smoothies, boil spaghetti, and make hot garlic bread. Their fingers learned to string beads and twist rubber bands to tie-dye t-shirts. They enjoyed taking photos with disposable cameras. They worked together to make Wally, our family papier mache alligator.

Our kids need to know personal satisfaction deeper than levels of video games and plastic soccer trophies. None of these accomplishments require sign-up fees. They don't take much electricity or transportation. They don't involve costumes or uniforms. Some of those childhood accomplishments nurture life-long interests.

It's hailing like crazy here in Plano. I'm so grateful I learned to sit and watch a storm by the front door with my dad. What a gift that my family applauded my first unburnt french toast! How funny to sleep on my forty-year-old cross stitch!

Sweet dreams!

© 2007 Nancy L. Ruder

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