"Mom. Do you know what I like about hot glue guns?"
"Yes, but I really like that you don't have to wait for the glue to dry."
I've been hearing for the last few years from Wyatt's teachers that children have a seasonal rhythm. In the spring, the children begin to "breathe out." They need more space to move around, group projects become more challenging, and they are less able to focus. The exhale continues through the wildness of summer, and in the fall, the children begin to "breathe in." Their energy shifts, they're ready to begin to work together, and they can maintain more focus. Until last week, this mystical explanation struck me as a post-hoc rationalization for "Why We Have Summer Vacation."
But last week, I began to question my skepticism of the "seasonal childhood rhythm" when, to my surprise, every afternoon, Wyatt requested we do increasingly complicated crafts, and then he actually worked on them for hours. His attention and intensity were astonishing. We started saying we were having "Crafternoons."
Fortunately, we had a focus for our Crafternoons. Before leaving on vacation, Wyatt received a box from his craft pal, Benjamin. Benjamin had made him a money shark (for all his toy sale earnings), a ladybug, and a gnome. Everyone I care to know would have been thrilled to receive such perfectly thoughtful gifts.
Wyatt began planning presents for Benjamin while we were in Massachusetts. He basically got my mother's permission to raid her stash of googly eyes and fancy pipe cleaners, and then he stowed them in my suitcase. He started brainstorming what he could make out of egg cartons.
Our first Crafternoon involved making and photographing sparkly caterpillars. It didn't take long for me to just hand over the (low-temperature) glue gun and figure Wyatt would learn soon enough how to keep his fingers from getting burned. I assisted as needed, but he needed very little help.
Our second Crafternoon involved sewing a gnome, in the style of the gnome he had made at school last year. If you cut a piece of felt in the shape of a simple house, you can make two overcast stitch edges and one running stitch neck. A little stuffing, cinch of the neck, and a trimming of felt to make a face space, and you're there.
Our third Crafternoon involved a ceramics painting playdate at a local studio, more sparkly caterpillars (because he wanted one for himself), and putting Benjamin's presents in the mail.
During the fourth and fifth Crafternoons, Wyatt learned to knit: "In through the front door, running 'round the back, peeping through the window, and off jumps Jack!" Thanks to Maja for that rhyme.
Today, we were out of egg cartons. Even worse, we didn't have much time for Crafternoon. All Wyatt wanted to do was squish into some clay on the counter while I made dinner. But killjoy that I am, preferring my dinner silt-free, I redirected him to the glue gun. He happily busied himself bedazzling some felt...to make another gnome.
It's probably a good thing that school starts Wednesday.