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Do you ever think that perhaps, unbeknownst to you, the fairies did visit your child at christening (or maybe it was that time he had the flu?) and bestow some odd gift that now, watching said child develop, leaves you wondering, “Where on earth did s/he get THAT personality quirk?”
This happens to me a fair amount. This is also my take on the age-old nature/nurture debate.
For example, Elliot. The Evil Fairy gave him the Gift of Obnoxious Punctuality, knowing that he’d been born into a family of perpetually late people. If you don’t believe in fairies, I ask you, where else would he have gotten this? He hates to be late. I remember the year he was 8, which coincided with the year we lived in France. We had this charming (read drafty) 250-year-old apartment that was a 30-min walk across town from their school, and we had no car. Every morning, he’d come into the bathroom where I’d be frantically applying makeup/drinking coffee/braiding Ilsa’s hair and say, “It’s 8:11; we need to leave in 9 minutes.” “It’s 8:12; we need to leave in 8 minutes now.” And of course, inevitably, “MO-OM! We’re LATE! I told you! It’s 8:30! We’ll never make it!” And then we would all thunder down the stairs and out into the cold grey mornings, speed walking our way through the cobbled streets, hair still damp.
So what if he was late? Their teachers adored them. We were their favorite American family.
Then there’s Ilsa. She’s my girl all right; book always in hand, soaking up books, devouring them. She takes books to restaurants and in cars.
Actual Ilsa quotes: “But Mom, I need to take 3 books because I’ve almost finished this one and it’s a long car ride.” (It was literally a 5 minute car ride to a friend’s dance concert.)
And, standing in front of the door with a plate of scraps for the rabbit in one hand and a book in the other, “Can someone open the door?” Me, “Ilsa, put down the book for just a minute and open the door yourself.”
Oh sure, I gripe, but I actually LOVE this. Because it’s me. I spent my childhood nose-deep in books, my adolescence, my young adulthood–ok, shut up. I get a lot of other things done these days. Like blogging.
But why did the Crafty Fairy have to visit her? How on earth did I get a daughter who likes to sew, to knit, to crochet, to make things? I absolutely hate doing crafts. The mere thought of scrap booking makes me break out in hives. (Seriously, they’re not zits) I’ve learned to knit at least 5 different times, I add and drop stitches with wild abandon and have huge gaping holes in my handicrafts. Why on earth would someone want to do stuff like that when they could be reading?
Do you know where crafts come from? Satan. I’m not making that up. I’m going to quote an actual verse here, from Genesis. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast.” Yep. THAT serpent, the one that tempted Eve. So I feel quite justified in my feelings.
Ilsa saw a huge, multi-page ad for JoAnn’s Craft and Fabric Store in the Sunday paper, and begged and begged me to take her there. Finally I agreed. I knew it was a mistake the minute I stepped inside. I didn’t belong there. I have adjusted very well, I think, to being in stores here in America (remember in August when I was freaking out in Safeway? Now I go to Fred Meyer‘s practically every DAY it seems) but JoAnn’s took me right back to some strange and terrible phantom world. Right there in Satan’s Den were rows of buttons. There were rows of yarn. There were rows of fabric. All things could be made. All things could be cute. All things could be quilted. I started to hyperventilate, right there next to the Christmas decorations.
I stuck it out though, because I am a Good Mother and I was not about to let the Evil Fairy get the better of me.
Ilsa wants to make everyone in the family Christmas stockings, since we left ours in Mauritania. She gets these ideas. I thought, she’s old enough to actually make decent ones, not just “look what my kid did…aww” ones, let’s get her a pattern. Because she’s actually quite talented, which proves my point about it not being an inherited trait. (And Donn, while he sews buttons on better than I do, isn’t exactly quilting a wreath for the front door or anything) I kind of want a pretty stocking, kind of elegant, in burgundy velvet with gold trim. We even have a fireplace this year!
I had to go all over the store again looking for a pattern. I found the patterns, after asking someone, but there were no stocking patterns, just huge books of impossible dresses and pajamas and things. I told Ilsa we would have to leave before I curled up on the floor in the fetal position and started sucking my thumb. She was very sad. So, on the way out, I mentioned our quest to the check-out woman.
Did you know that each of those huge books of patterns has a section called crafts? There were no helpful signs telling you this; apparently the Evil Fairy just whispers that information in people’s ears. We had to go back. We had to page through books. We had to choose.
I explained to the woman a little of my perspective, trying not to sound too bitter or defensive. “I don’t belong here,” I started out. “You workers of iniquity may trap innocent girls with your candy-corn-shaped buttons and spools of gold ribbon and rick-rack but not me!” She took it quite well, and pointed out where it says, right on the pattern, what kinds of fabric you need.
Apparently, you need batting. Batting? What? Batty is more like it. I told Ilsa no way are you bringing batty into my house, missy! When you have your own house, I explained, you can fill whole rooms with it, but not now.
Actually we read this out in the rain, where I had fled to clear my poor, aching head.
We’re home safe now, with the pattern, a mini sewing kit, and several things I picked up in the $1 bin that I’m thrilled to have (a magnetic dry-erase board for the fridge, for example. You can write things on it. Or draw things. It’s fun).
And I love the girl, she can have batting if she really wants it. Whatever it may be.
But so help me, if I ever catch that Evil Fairy!
What about you? What gifts did the Evil Fairy give your kids?

October 2007

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A Perfect Post – January 2007

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