Friday, April 22, 2016

On being Rarity

Chloe gets up early in the mornings now. For the past few years--ever since she's been able to read a clock--I've enforced wake-up time at 7 AM. But she's been waking up earlier than that most days lately (probably her bedtime could use some moving back, but that would cause problems because Maia needs more sleep and they're in the same bed at the moment) and now I get up at six for work anyway. So, I've allowed her to get up at six. She can do it on the weekends too; but she's still not allowed to wake me until seven.

We got out my beading things recently to make barefoot sandals, because a show they watch, Winx Club, features fairies who wear them and the girls admire the look. In the course of making this and that, Chloe made herself a little bracelet out of some long glass tube beads, and Wednesday she wore it to school. "A lot of people really liked my bracelet," Chloe said yesterday morning, when it was just her and me, "and they want one for themselves. So I'm going to. But I don't have to make them all right now."

"How many are you making?" I asked.

"Some for my friends, and one for the new girl." I thought that was lovely. We took the beading stuff out and sat until Maia woke up, me working, she beading. She made three or four bracelets and brought them to school and passed them out--apparently somewhat on the sly. When I asked her about it, she said, "Well, I gave Fiona's to her when we were in line. And I gave the new girl hers when I was going to the door to go to the bathroom. Because she sits on a line between me and the door."

This morning she sat down to the bead box again. "Lots more people told me they want bracelets," she reported. "Even some boys! Two Davids and two Stevens. Lots of people want them in Seahawks colors. And some people want the exact thing that someone else had."

This last was a grumble--I'm not sure whether it's because she didn't want her creativity stifled or because she couldn't actually remember what the desired pattern was. We have a decent variety of beads, and she mostly wasn't following any easily-remembered patterns as she made her bracelets.

I told her that sometimes people admire things they see and don't think about how they might want it changed for themselves, and she didn't seem discouraged. As she plugged along I had to keep stopping myself from saying, "You don't have to make things for people just because they ask." She wasn't treating this as a drudgery, or something she had to do or fear reprisal; people had told her they liked her work and she wanted to share it with them. It was a beautiful thing. But I kept thinking I should tell her not to do it.

Earlier in the week she made tiny paper fans for everyone in her class, because it had been hot and was going to be hot again, and she thought they would like them. I loved that so much. I might have thought of doing such a thing when I was in school (though I didn't) but I certainly would never have decided to pass them out to everyone. I was too shy. Chloe is not, and that makes me happy. Chloe is a generous girl, too, and that also makes me happy. That's one of the top few things I would like my children to be: compassionate; confident; generous. I have a hard time with it myself, and I don't like that about me. Though I do at least share the desire to share things I've made, but I think that's more connected with my fear that if I don't produce something useful, I'm not useful. I hope that's not what motivates Chloe. I don't think it is.

(I do wonder if that's that motivates Rarity in My Little Pony, though. I find her interesting because she embodies the spirit of generosity, but she also seems to feel the opposite pull a lot of the time, which the others don't. Would you like to discuss characterization and themes in My Little Pony and other kids' shows? I'm your mama.)

She made as many bracelets as she could, asking me to tie each knot. Then she noticed a set of four big blue beads in the box that I distinctly remember buying from the bead shop in U-District when I first got interested in beading, when I was fourteen or so (luckily beads have no expiration date). "I'm going to make matching necklaces for Fiona and Lily and me!" she said, naming her two best friends. "Because those beads are all the same!" And so she made three necklaces, too, and put one on, and scooped the rest of the jewelry she'd made into her hands to put into her backpack for school.

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