Nathan wants a suit. He says he’s willing to hold off on a full-scale tux for the moment, but he at least wants a proper suit and tie (and the tux would not be turned down). Not much interested in running out to have him properly fitted for formal clothes, I was not averse to browsing at a thrift store, where we found a reasonable shirt and pair of pants.
But not a tie. Perhaps ties for small boys don’t tend to show up in thrift stores, or perhaps I just missed them. Fortunately it turns out that ties are small and almost trivially easy to make. With a free pattern for a velcro-fastened tie found online, Nathan and I were able to produce a tie for him even in a leisurely, much-interrupted morning.
And now I want to take this moment to brag about my eldest son.
My previous experience of sewing with a small child centered around one of the neighborhood kids, a girl about Nathan’s age who occasionally expressed interest in doing a project (especially when the boys didn’t want to play). I quickly found that I couldn’t make any assumptions about her knowledge or skills. When I used the word “rectangle” and she stared at me blankly, I caught myself, backed up, and explained the concept. When she seemed to have a lot of trouble mastering how the ruler worked I thought that maybe I was mistaken about how early that skill is learned. But it was the fact that, while sewing with my machine, she freely admitted to being mostly interested in making it go as fast as possible that discouraged me. Of course I didn’t expect her to sew beautiful straight seams — these things take practice. But I did expect some effort.
So when I recently tried a sewing project with Nathan (a billfold, as he had actual paper money for a change), my expectations were low. And I was astonished by him. Not only did he seem to quickly grasp the concept of measuring his money to see how big the billfold needed to be, but he designed the billfold himself, incorporated my suggestions (I was careful not to offer too many), and, to my utter astonishment, sewed beautifully even, careful lines of stitching. Seriously — did someone sneak into the house and teach this kid how to sew behind my back?
I don’t want to read too much into this — there are a lot of differences between the two situations, not least of which may have been their respective levels of interest. But still, I was impressed. So I tackled the tie project with utter confidence, and he did the majority of the sewing, and the whole thing felt quick and happy. So much so that over the next week, we made three more.