Monday, November 13, 2006

It was like my own personal Project Runway, really.

It was the year I became really good friends with Camille. We had known each other since elementary school, but it was in the seventh grade when we bonded. That was the year we took Home Economics.

My mama insisted on it. She was convinced that every girl should take Home Ec in order to learn all of the basic, well, home economical skills a woman needs. Like cooking and doing the laundry.

And sewing.

From what I remember about Home Ec that year, Camille and I didn't really learn anything. We mostly talked about cute boys and clothes, and how big the Home Ec's teacher's head was. Bless her heart. She was a sweet, old woman. She must've been in her late 60's, but I think we thought she was at least in her 80's. She had a sweet little voice to match her tiny frame (and not her big head.)

She never did teach either one of us to sew. For our big sewing test, we had to make a blouse for ourselves. And, get this- we had to actually wear it to school. I remember shopping for fabric with Mama and trying to select something that was inexpensive, but not hideously unfashionable. I ended up with a pink fabric with a tiny floral print. (It looked like something you'd find on an old quilt top.) Look out, Gloria Vanderbilt.

I wore it to school and it was the most uncomfortable top I ever had. I can't remember what Camille's shirt looked like, but I can guess it was some serious ugly, too. We laughed about the whole thing and somehow we made it through the school day. We passed Home Ec, mostly because we were sweet and polite to the teacher. At least we learned something that year.

So, when my daughter came home from school last week and said she would like to dress as a pigeon for her school project, you can see why I would be a little anxious. I don't own a sewing machine, and even if I did, I can't sew. I didn't learn a whole lot in junior high home economics. Unless you count the near professional skill of using a seam ripper.

I am quite skilled at using a glue gun or that near addictive foam. And I have been known to paint some serious Vacation Bible School props. But the pigeon challenge? It was a big one.

After a trip to Michael's and Target, I painstakingly began to attach a feather boa to a grey tunic top. My daughter modeled. I pinned. I even stuck the pins in my mouth like a real seamstress does, squinting my eyes a lot, and yelling "hold still!" It was all quite impressive really. I was beginning to feel pretty good about it.

Even though she looked a lot more like Chicken Little, and not the pigeon from Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus, I was determined to make it work, no matter what. Isn't that what moms do? But, I have to say that I was relieved when I overheard this conversation-

"Well, you have to tell Mommy now. She is working on it right now. Don't wait until she is almost finished."

"But I don't want to hurt her feelings."

"You won't. She needs to know, though. If you really feel that way, just tell her."

Pretending not to hear it, I stopped attaching feathers and casually walked in the room. My daughter then told me, nearly in tears, that she had changed her mind. She didn't want to be a pigeon. She really didn't want to hurt my feelings, because she "knew I had worked so hard on it." After a long talk, she shared that it was turning out to be too fluffy and that, well, she didn't want to be teased by the little boy at her table.

Hey, I may not be able to sew, but I'm not cruel. I'm a girl, too. I can remember what it was like to be in elementary school. I don't want my daughter going to school covered in feathers surrounded by giggling kids. She'll probably need therapy one day as it is; I don't want to add on even more motherhood mistakes.

So, we thought it over together. We laughed about the feathers, and the fact that she was starting to look more like a chicken than a pigeon. And she picked another favorite book and character for her project, Ike from Dear Mrs. LaRue. In case you haven't read it, Ike is a dog. Yes, a cute dog and not a pigeon.

It may not be Laura Ingalls, but it doesn't get much easier than that.

For a girl who can't sew.

Because, to loosely quote Laura from the PR finale, "You just can't pull that kind of craftsmanship out of your hat."


Big Mama said...

This post is so funny and sweet at the same time. I love that she was so worried about hurting your feelings and that your the kind of mom who understands that she doesn't want to dress up like a fluffy, grey pigeon/duck.

Susanne said...

Being a non-sewer myself I am so relieved for you that you did not have to continue. I was really sweating bullets for you from when you first mentioned it. :v)

How cool you are to remember what it was like and be sensitive to that. And what a sweet heart of a little girl to care so much about your feelins.

Julie said...

I love how your daughter was able to be honest, and in the end you just laughed about it all.

I won't go into my childhood trauma, where my mom dressed me up as an Indian for school. She put a pair of black tights on my head and braided them. Oh yes she did.

What a good mommy you are!

Linda said...

You're a good mom who hasn't forgotten what it's like to be that age. Nice job!

Mommy Dearest said...

I am thankful for you that you don't have to finish that costume (and traumatize your daughter). I'm proud of you for trying, though, instead of trying to talk her out of it.