For Rio’s fifth birthday I made her a gift: a fabric pencil case that rolls up. It has little pockets for scissors and a ruler and a glue stick and sharpener, and holds about two dozen colored pencils (and a few regular #2s).
I worked very hard on this, getting sewing lessons from a friend (who also did the quilting). It was fun to make, but also took a long time.
I gave it to her fully expecting that it would be opened and thrown into the bottom of the gift bucket in favor of some shinier, noisier toy. I also figured she would bring it out again a week later when the shiny noisy toys were forgotten under the bed, and that she’d use it every day for a long time.
I was cool with that imagined trade-off. I’m an adult, I’m over the whole instant gratification thing.
Or so I told myself until she opened it and it turned out to be The Gift. This photo to the right, the one where she’s holding the pencil case in a tight embrace, is not the moment she opened it. It’s the moment a few minutes later when she realized she’d set it down and someone had moved it, and started to cry a little because she just Could Not Bear to be parted from her beloved pencil case, and then I found it and put it back into her arms.
She took it upstairs and held court with it for the rest of the party while six other little girls swarmed around her, oohing and aahing. Pencil cases, man. Little chicks dig ‘em. Who knew?
I’m incredibly grateful to my friend who helped with this. Not only did she stay up late one tired night and teach me how to use the sewing machine she’s leant me, she also spent her own time and skill quilting little kites onto the surface. I had a blanket like that as a kid, where the images on the fabric were quilted, and I still recall viscerally the magic of running my fingers over the little rainbows and feeling their shapes standing out against the quilt.
I may have been wrong about her opening it up and forgetting it for a week, but I wasn’t wrong about her using it every day. It’s become a staple of craft time, and she clearly feels very big now having her Own Art Supplies to work with.