Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Two Ladies on a Bench

Yesterday afternoon a friend and I were sitting on a bench on the school playground, waiting for our kids to finish cross-country practice. I was crocheting a cap that is part of Child Two’s Halloween costume and telling my friend about an absolutely-from-scratch soapmaking class I’d been to the night before and how I could hardly wait until tonight to take the soap out of its mould. She was telling me about the sweater she’s knitting—she hasn’t knit much since the leg-warmer days of the 1980s—and how she stayed up until 1:00 the night before because she just couldn’t stop.

As Child Two and I walked home, another mom—one I don’t very well—stopped me to admire the felted bag I was carrying my project in. She asked me if I’ve ever felted (I haven’t. I bought the bag at a fundraiser for Grandmothers to Grandmothers. When I’m a grandmother, I’m definitely joining a group like this) and told me I just had to try it because it’s so cool.

When you’re a crafty person, life is full of joy, isn’t it?

The soapmaking class was a lot of fun, especially because I got to wear goggles and rubber gloves and use a thermometer and all sorts of scientific stuff. Remember that group of girls who set fire to the table in 8th-grade science class? I was one of them. The only part of chemistry I ever liked was balancing chemical equations, and that was only because it’s like math and I was way better at math than at science. Who knew chemistry could be so enjoyable—and result in something more useful than a charred table, an exasperated teacher, and three very embarrassed girls?

I haven’t made a Halloween costume since Child Two was young enough to dress up as Winnie-the-Pooh. In many years, we’ve been lucky enough to get hand-me-downs. As for the other years? Well, you know that mom you’ve seen rifling through the slim selection of costumes less than a week before Halloween because somehow—even though the stuff has been in the stores for months and even though the year before she vowed that she would not be doing this again—she’s completely forgotten to buy costumes? That’s me.

This year Child Two wants to be a 1970s girl. She’s inspired by her love of the Julie series of American Girl books (if you’ve got a daughter, try these books. Each series is about a girl in a different era in U.S. history). Child Two loves all of the series that she’s read so far, but she’s drawn especially to Julie. Julie, who has long, straight blond hair, lives in San Francisco. In 1974, she’s 9-turning-10 and her parents are divorcing. Her best friend is a different race from her. All of this is appealing to Child Two because in 1974 I had long, straight blond hair (which I still grieve for); I lived just outside San Francisco; I was 9-turning-10; my parents were divorcing; and my best friend was a different race from me.

I don’t know how many years of Halloween costumes we’ve got left—or at least, how many years before I’m screeching “You’re wearing that? Put some decent clothes on!” and she’s rolling her eyes and slamming her door. Child One has stopped trick-or-treating and Two may not be far behind. So I’m happy to help her with a costume this year.

I’m crocheting her a little Juliet cap. I haven’t found a pattern with flower motifs like Julie’s (if you know of a pattern, I'd love to hear about it), so Two’s cap will be plainer, but I’ll put a shell edging on it. We’re going to buy some flare jeans this weekend and she’ll design something for me to embroider on them. She’s already got a shirt that will do if I don’t have time to make one, as well as a denim purse and lots of peace buttons. I have my mom’s “War is not healthy for children and other living things” pendant, which Child Two will wear on a leather string just like her grandmother did decades ago.

The two best things about this costume? First, she’ll be able to add all the new stuff to her regular wardrobe. And second, I won’t be one of those moms desperately searching for a costume at the last minute.

So over the next few weeks, as Two runs along the forest trails, I’ll be sitting on the playground bench with my crochet hook or my embroidery needle, talking to my friend about the things that make up our lives right now—knitting and gardening and soapmaking, husbands and kids, and work (with a little gossip thrown in, I’m sure).


Sandy said...

Sounds like a great time on the bench. Whenever you're crafting conversations always seems to flow, even if the 2nd person isn't a crafter. The custom sounds fun, has been ages since I've been involved in that. My daughter now teaches 5th grade...but I do have fond memories of thinking of us putting together a custom. If you have trouble finding flared jeans, cut them partway of the sides and sew in some flowered fabric cut in triangles. Works quite well. Headbank could be made from the same fabric, or belt.

Don't forget pictures, that is if she'll let you photograph her. Sometimes, kids aren't very cooperative about stuff like that.

Have a great week, and happy crafting.

Arielle said...

Interesting post..! I always remember the fun and excitement of Halloween as a kid.

Sandy said...

Popping in to say hi, hoping you're having a wonderful day