Sticking with it.
I admit it–I’m a sucker for a craft kit. Which is strange in a way, since I really do want my kids to have craft experiences that are about process rather than prodcut–and nearly every craft kit out there is about the product. Not to mention that the projects tend to be very proscriptive, with no room for creativity. But there’s something so enticing about the neatly packaged little bits of yarn and fabric and wool or whatever. There is so little in my life that is pre-packaged, and armed with my 40% off AC Moore coupon, I have a hard time resisting what seems like a quick and easy way to some crafty fun.
Which is how we found ourselves pulling out this sewing kit. The little stuffed animals are just the kind of thing Maggie loves, so she gravitated to the little stuffed dog. She read through the directions and began assembling the pieces. And then we hit some snags. The scissors were TERRIBLE, and didn’t actually work to cut embroidery floss. The needle wasn’t all that sharp, and she kept having trouble getting it through the (icky) acrylic felt. Maggie found herself in a place of determined frustration, angry at everyone and everything around her, but entirely unwilling to take a break or walk away.
The final straw was when she realized that she’d sewn the decorations on the wrong side of one of the pieces, so it all had to be snipped off and resewn. At that point, when my suggestion of taking a break was once again rejected, I gathered Maggie and her sewing materials into my lap on our big armchair, breathing deeply, speaking soothingly and just holding her while she kept at this frustrating effort. So finally she was ready to stuff and sew the edges.
At which point, the tide turned. The whip-stitching around the edges came easily, so she was able to make progress and feel satisfied. She spent the better part of the day listening to audiobooks and sewing up the dog. She then asked for my help to finger-knit him a collar, and both she and Anna played with him for much of the remainder of the afternoon. She feels very proud and accomplished, thrilled to show off her creation to all.
So in the end, we got to a good place. I’m so glad for her to have this experience of moving through frustration to satisfaction. It seems especially valuable that she and I were able to sit down and reflect on this process. And in terms of the craft kit, I’m realizing that part of the appeal is that she can finish with a very satisfying product, which also feels good. Not so good is being thwarted by sub-par materials, which I think most of these inexpensive craft kits are plagued with.
Lesson learned? These kinds of projects are great for Maggie, but I’m probably better off putting everything together myself. Or putting it together with her. Which will ultimately be even more satisfying for both of us, I think.
P.S. The best part of that kit? It came in a little suitcase, which has been played with around here about a hundred times since it arrived at Christmas. Who knew that a little suitcase could be so much fun?