Yesterday I arrived early to the studio so I could do a little knitting. A boy who appeared to be between 5-7 years old sat nearby, looking. At one point I got up and then came back to find him sitting somewhat near where I had been.
“Did you want to sit here? I can move to the couch.”
He shook his head.
“Are you sure?”
At this point, his father looked up from the newspaper and said “I think he was interested in watching you.”
“Fantastic! You can do that. Want me to show you what I’m making?”
The kid lit up. It was awesome. He had been shy with me before the invitation, but when I showed interest, he had tons of questions.
“Are you sewing?” Not sewing, I’m knitting. That led to a fruitful conversation about the differences between various fiber arts.
“Is that hard?” Not exactly, because I’ve been practicing for so long. I asked him if he played a sport, and when he said he played soccer, I said “You probably weren’t as good as you are now when you first started, right?” He shook his head with a rueful grin. “It’s totally the same thing. When I first started knitting, I wasn’t very good. But I kept practicing and learning new things, and I got better and better!”
“What if someone made a mistake every minute while they were working on this?” Well, they’d be learning a lot! One of my favorite things a former boss said to me was that mistakes good things because they are a chance to learn. She actually said she welcomed mistakes. That was an incredibly freeing thing for perfectionist, authority fearing young professional to hear. I told him about my “learning scarf” -the first thing I ever knitted (incidentally, don’t choose a scarf as your first project)- and how it started out really uneven and bumpy and ended up looking really good towards the end. You can actually see my progression as I learned how to knit.
I’m not sure where this is going exactly, except to say that I loved getting to foster that curiosity for just a few minutes. I miss interacting with children in that way.