They are never too young... Sept 2011
Yesterday, as I was helping a student make a purse, Emma brought her little pink step stool, set it as close to my feet as possible, and wiggled her little self under my arm and into the space in front of me so she could "help Nana". Emma is growing up in the quilt shop, just like earlier generations grew up on the farm, in the workshop, in a family owned grocery or small business.
My Grandmother Emma Weaver told of taking my mother as an infant to the Central Market in Lancaster, PA. (circa 1922) She would tuck the baby in her basket bed under the counter, where the baby would sleep until she needed to be fed. My Grandmother would wait on customers selling meat and cheese for the family business, the baby sleeping or playing nearby. When I visit the farmer's market in downtown Lancaster I cannot imagine taking an infant there for the day while I worked. But many women did. Those children learned early how to talk to people, how to behave in crowds, how to help, how to work....and how to handle money and count back change. That makes me smile because most teens who might read that last sentence would have no idea what "counting back change" is. I was an early teen when I learned to wait on customers at the meat and cheese stand at market. I added columns of numbers without a calculator, doubled and divided weights on the meat scale and counted change with ease. I learned to treat people kindly, with appreciation for their business, no matter how tired I was...no matter what!!
Our customers tell us that a quilt shop is a wonderful place for a child to grow up in. I am fortunate to have my daughter and granddaughter with me almost daily. I am aware that most mothers do not take their little ones to work in a gentle business they share with their mother. I am grateful. I also am aware that at times, I take our closeness for granted. Having Emma around as much as I do, I sometimes brush off her interest in what I am doing with the thought that she is too young. Yesterday she pushed pins into a piece of fabric, one at a time. I am amazed at her fine motor skills. For those who might worry, she has never put pins in her mouth. She doesn't put anything in her mouth that isn't food or water, or her fingers when she is cutting teeth. She holds a pencil like I do--except she is right handed-- and "writes" with me. When I sit down to sew at the sewing machine, she comes with her stool to stand close to me, watching closely, putting the pins I pull out of the piece I am sewing back into a pin cushion.
Our children and grandchildren, the neighbor's children or even kids down the street we may not know, watch us and learn from us. Often what we do is much bigger than what we say. Having a very young child around me every day has reminded me how much they pick up, just by watching, and listening as well. What we say has to line up with what we do, who we are, and how we treat each other.
They are never to young to learn...and as I think about it, we are never too old, either. But that's for another time, another page. ....Rachel