Monday, December 19, 2005

Menticia knits.

After Menticia and I talked about Texan history and national loyalties, our conversation turned to Christmas presents.

I'm not sure Menticia gets it exactly about presents. I asked what she's getting for her brother, and she said, "I gave him five bucks." I said "that's not much of a present," and THEN she said, "I told him he'd have to give the money back sometime," and I said: "well in that case, it's not a present at all, it's a loan!"

This is my second Christmas with her, another opportunity to impress on her my conviction that parents and grandparents love home-made presents.

On "Weekend America" a grinchy commentator said she hates hand-made presents. She thought even 12-year-olds should be able to get themselves to the mall and buy her something she actually wants. I wanted to attack this woman with globs of the cranberry-walnut cake batter I was mixing at the time. Tomorrow: a partial transcript of her obnoxious piece.

It seemed I wasn't making much headway with the home-made thing but suddenly Menticia said, "OK, I want to knit my grandma a scarf." So before she changed her mind, we whipped off to the mall (!!) to get yarn and knitting needles.

Evidently some kids at her school have been knitting and it looked kind of cool to her.

In the crafts department, Menticia went instantly to the powder-blue yarn. She said it's her favorite color and I said I hated it and we had fun going through the yarn colors and giving our opinions, all strongly worded.

She said "I hate purple, but sometimes my mother makes me wear it."

This almost turned to a crisis when the right-sized knitting needles turned out to be purple. But she rooted through and found some blue ones, so disaster was averted.

We had hardly gotten our butts into the car when she asked how to get started. I haven't knitted in twenty years but luckily I remembered!

All the way home she kept asking me to teach her, she couldn't wait, and I actually can't knit and drive at the same time, so we'd drive for a while and then I'd pull over and show her for a while, then I'd pull back into the road and she would bend her head over her work. Then there would be a problem and another request for help. It was a long ride.

We finally got settled in the living room. On the way home I'd hatched a scheme. I pulled out Redwall, a book I've been trying to wheedle her into because my son Zed loved it so much when he was her age. (She's been resisting because it's thick and the print is grown-up size.) I said, "Let's alternate. I'll read you a chapter while you knit, then we'll switch and you read me a chapter while I knit."

The brilliant thing about this: Menticia didn't really want to read this book, because it's a little bit hard, but on the other hand she saw I could knit very fast. So as long as she was reading to me, her grandmother's scarf was getting longer at a satisfying clip. She looked up often to gauge my progress.

When we switched, I read to her from the stirring story (of noble mice and dastardly rats and stoats) in most dramatic style, and soon, she adopted the dramatic style too, for the first time ever! It was fun to hear her voice swoop up and down - usually she tries to be "calm."

I packed one more peanut butter sandwich into her and took her home. Knitting was so much fun, now I'm making a scarf for Zed. I called him from the store asking his color preference and he said, "I want the rainbow colored yarn Melina used to use." Awww.

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At 9:18 AM, Blogger Badaunt said...

That is a wonderful story. What a great way to get her reading - and knitting! Taking turns was inspired - kids get bored when things don't happen quickly enough.

(I'm remembering my efforts with growing carrots with my grandfather, and pulling them up almost every day - VERY CAREFULLY - to see what was going on.)

At 3:46 PM, Blogger MLight said...

Redwall was one of my favorite things to read to my older children - all those wonderful voices and accents. I particularly loved the moles. I'll need to read that to my six year old soon - after I finish Dragon Rider and a few other books we're in the middle of.

At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Pearl said...

What a great knitting story.


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