The middle girl loves making things.
She is five years old. Being a typical child of her age, she is naughty at times, does not like being told what to do and is pretty fussy about food. Not to mention the world's slowest eater (except when eating sweet things or her favourite food, which is cheesy pasta).
But, if I had to sum her up to a stranger, I'd say she is wonderfully eccentric, funny and incredibly kind (although not necessarily towards her sisters). She is a joy to live with. When not being naughty, that is.
Her first year at school has been to her satisfaction - mainly because of the amount of freedom reception class children are offered. Although she has frequently emerged from school grumbling about how hard she has been made to work by Mrs Davidson ("I had to write THREE sentences today, Mummy!"), she regularly came out with armfuls of things she had spent the afternoon creating.
This paper apron is one such creation. She made it in her last week at school before the summer holidays, and was wearing it when I arrived to collect her. It turns out Rachael had made an apron just because that is what she decided she wanted to make. No one helped her - she did it all by herself. Wow, I said. That is lovely. And clever.
And yet, she was looking decidedly grumpy. The reason for her grumpiness? She then had to spend time showing half the class how they could make one too.
The middle girl is an individual. And what she likes best is dreaming up ideas and then working out how to make them, using her favourite materials of paper, sticky tape and felt pens.
Over the course of the summer holidays, the house has been steadily filled with Rachael's makes. She has used the times I've been tied up with baby Charlotte to her advantage. (The downside to this is that she is seemingly blind to the mess of paper cuttings on the floor of wherever she happens to be creating stuff, and as such does not see the need to do anything about it.)
|pirate shoes (and gorgeous baby quilt made by my mum for Charlotte)|
|frog glasses (decorated with an acorn)|
This problem was soon solved.
And, beaming from ear to ear, she went on to show me the pockets she had made. Genius!
Aside from wondering how to break it to the girl that her creations will one day have to find their way to the recycling bin, it also makes me wonder about how we can ensure our education system can best combine the need to teach children the things we think they need to know with allowing them the freedom to do the things they think need to be done.
I know that come next week, Rachael's new class teacher will have the unenviable job of persuading her to spend a lot more time sitting down at a desk to do tasks that are not of her own choosing. I know how hard it can be to fool the middle girl into doing something she doesn't want to do at that precise moment in time - the list of high frequency words she is meant to be learning is a case in point.
The paper shorts episode has started me wondering whether with a bit of adult input a five year old could have a stab at making some simple garments out of fabric. I gently put this idea to my own budding fashion designer. After all, if, as this afternoon has demonstrated, she can work out a pattern using paper and make it fit her body, then why not do the same with some fabric. Needless to say her eyes lit up at the suggestion.
So to get it straight. Not willing to have Mummy help her learn the big list of high frequency words she is actually meant to be learning in time for the start of term next week. Very willing to have me teach her how to make clothes because she wants to learn how to do that. Not so eccentric after all. Aren't we all like that?
Now to find some time to do it. That is, when her sisters are out of the house. Because the thought alone of teaching three small children how to use a sewing machine is enough to send this sleep deprived Mummy over the edge.