Monday, March 8, 2010

Nothing says "I love you" like an old T-shirt

There are so many things I want to write first "girls weekend" since Jack was born...the "what makes your heart hurt" service idea...and other thoughts just goozing out of my brain. Totally sure "goozing" isn't a word, but that's how it feels.

But, I will just bite off a tiny piece of the mental chaos and write about the lunch sacks.

Yes. Lunch sacks. Bear with me, as I'll make my way there eventually...

I set off this weekend to find my creative side. The one that doesn't just make people, but also makes things FOR people. I have that in me, but it's hiding under a whole bunch of other things right now. I create through food. I'm always doing fun art things with the kids. But mostly, I just try to get through most days having my children fed and clothed and all my papers graded on time.

As background to my creative-quest:

Andrew was outgrowing the Superman shirt, and I was pretty bummed about that. My mom gave it to Jack when he was tiny and when he outgrew it, Andrew wore it daily. We had two of them, so he could wear one while the other was in the wash.

It was starting to show his midriff and that was a bit awkward. So I put it in the box for the orphanage, and hoped that a little boy would love it as much as my boys did.

Parallel to this, I was trying to find more options for toting when I pack the insulated bags (times 3), that's a major handful of lunch-totes. Plus, some were dirty when I needed them, and I needed more quantity. In a pinch, I used a drawstring bag once, and it was perfect. I had a vision of a drawerful of drawstring bags that would fold flat but carry our food.


I'm getting to my point.

As I was staring wistfully at the Superman shirt, I started thinking about Lara's handmade bag. And realized that I could cut off the sleeves to the Superman shirt, sew up the three sides, and put a drawstring through the neckline.

I loved the idea so much that I grabbed a couple more shirts. And spent a good portion of my girls' weekend hand-stitching the lunch bags out of the boys' recycled shirts while my friends knitted.

I wasn't sure if Andrew would look at the Superman lunch-sack and say, "You broke my shirt!" and start crying (a possibility)...or be thrilled by his new Superman lunchbag.

When I presented it to him this morning, his eyes lit up more than I have ever seen them. Ever. And his smile nearly broke his face into two.

"You...MADE that for me!" And then carried it around with him all morning until it was finally time to leave to MOPS and actually use the sack.

Jack, surprisingly, was just as excited about his plain ol' blue striped one...although I promised to put the robot iron-on transfer onto his bag. I was really touched that he seemed 100% joyful that I'd made it for him, and not because there was some fun design on it. When I picked him up after MOPS, he'd apparently been telling the teachers about the lunchsack I made him out of his old T-shirt. I'm smiling even as I write that.

Hmm. It got me thinking, and I later asked both of them: "Did you like the lunchsack more because I made it, or the same as if I bought it in the store?"

Andrew said: "Because you made it for me," just as Jack said: "Since you made it, it came from your heart."

I have many, many layers of feeling about this whole situation. There was something very maternal and magical about stitching those darned lunch-sacks, knowing that I was making them for my boys. And somehow, they sensed that.

I also felt, in their answers about my making it, some validation that we must be doing something right with our children. Perhaps not and it's all a fluke. Or maybe...just maybe...we're creating little men who understand that value is about love and connecting with each other, and not about stuff we buy.

That face Andrew had when I gave it to him: It beat out the joy from even his Star Wars figures for Christmas... or any other gift we've bought him, for that matter.

Maybe if I was truly crafty and I was making cool sewing creations right and left, they wouldn't have given two-doodles about it. I might not be able to re-create their joyous surprise. But I won't be forgetting their joy anytime soon, either way.

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