I just finished a far-too-long-delayed repair of my son’s stuffed bunny. Gray Bunny was purchased two years ago for Easter 2008, and within a week, had a huge rip down his back. Cheap bunny, but Ray had picked it out himself and loved it. He asked me to sew it… and I just now got around to it. I lose Mother of the Year Award, I’m aware. Heck, I lost Mother of the Day award a long time ago.
In no defense at all- I HATE mending. I mean, shirts have sat for years before I get around, if ever, to sewing a button back on. And zippers? Forget it? It’s easier to buy a new one- or go without. There’s something about the meticulousness of it, the necessity of it, the sheer practicality of sewing that I just hate. It’s so far down on my list of to-dos, it rarely ever gets done. I look at the rip and I just shudder and put it back. The funny thing is, it’s not the actual sewing that I abhor.
For you see, I like creation through sewing. I have made quilts by hand; I have crocheted afghans; I used to make doll clothes. I love to write, to scrapbook and to cook celebratory dinners. The end product isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I could look at something that didn’t exist before I started it and know that I had a hand in its being. The process of creation and putting things together in new and interesting ways intrigues me.
But fixing- fixing has never been my thing. Putting something back the way that it was supposed to be originally- that bores me, that frustrates me and that stifles me. You can see my dislike of fixing by looking around my house- ripped screen door, small nick in the wall where the door handle has hit one too many times, and a car that needs an oil change. “Fixing” dinner is tedious, and I never did pick up the Southern phrase of “fixin’ to” do something. I find it easier to pay someone else to do fixing if I have the money, or do without if I don’t. I have never liked living up to someone else’s vision of what “should” be.
And that’s why I love parenting. And that’s why I love teaching. I’m not very good at “art”- visual, musical, or performance. But creating a situation where a person can grow and learn and become who they are- that’s creation! That’s being able to look at something that has grown because of my input, that has become its own thing. It’s particularly why I love teaching kids who are gifted and kids with exceptionalities. Without a teacher, they flounder, they hide, they don’t grow. Children with special needs need a teacher who recognizes their abilities, and children who are gifted need a teacher to show them what they could become if they don’t settle. Children need to know that their parents are there for them, that they have roots from which to grow and wings with which to fly.
So yesterday morning, Ray dug Gray Bunny out from a long-ignored pile of stuffed animals, and with a note of impatience, asked “Mommy, PLEASE fix him!” And in his crabby tone, I heard his need- his need for something to be whole, his need to believe his mother, his need for stability. For today is the last day of school, and his world is a’rockin’. My littlest one does not handle transition well. The vast shift of summer looms. His sense of self splinters and fractures at times like these. The past few summers have been seasons of moving, of new places, of loss. His voice was asking for Gray Bunny, but his soul was needing the stability of whole.
And so yesterday, in between writing tests for my classes I’m teaching this summer and planning activities, I took up needle in hand. Whipping together a seam of brown thread (couldn’t find gray and somehow I wasn’t surprised- I was proud to have found the needle) for about four inches, I finished Gray Bunny’s surgery in about 10 minutes. I put him on Ray’s bed, where he sat upright, perky and waiting for his boy, whole once again.
Ray didn’t even say “Hello” when he came in the house. He slouched in, slammed the door, and in an accusatory tone asked, “Did you get sew Gray Bunny? I’ll bet you didn’t!” Emotional regulation is not Ray’s strength.
“I DID!” I said, absurdly proudly that at least- this time- I hadn’t let Ray down. I went into his room and got the stuffed rabbit for him and turning, put Gray Bunny into his arms. His air of bravado melted, and he closed his eyes as he hugged Gray Bunny, burying his nose in the fluff that by now is slightly stale, slightly bedraggled. He mumbled something that was close to a “Thanks”- loud enough for me not to hassle him about manners, but not so loud that we would exchange conversation. With a deep breath, he tossed Gray Bunny back on the bed, and then went out to the front yard to play with his friends. Gray Bunny lay between the wall and the bed, tossed aside, but with no loss of perky ears or comfort.
And last night, as I was tucking Ray into bed, he lay on his side, clutching Gray Bunny with his arm, using the stuffed animal partly as a pillow, partly as a tether. His own tow-headed tufts intermingled with Gray Bunny’s curls. My seven-almost-eight-years-old little boy is between worlds, between second and third grade, between being a “little guy” and being a kid. And if the fixing of Gray Bunny, hurt for two years, can reassure him that he too, can get over hurts, can get over the worry, can get over the fear- well, then, I have sewed him peace. I brushed his face with love with my fingertips, and brushed my eyes for the tingle of tears.
By fixing Gray Bunny, I have created a moment of stability for my child.