Wednesday, 6 November 2013

On Having Good Tools

Children know. I think we all remember that knowing, that awareness of what the good, what the real is. We also knew when adults tried to hoodwink us.

There was certainly no hoodwinking involved the morning I gave Zinadine his new drill. He grabbed it enthusiastically, before I could get the drill bit in, and started in on the assembled pile of balsa wood that we had gathered from the playroom. "Look Mama, I'm building a house!", he pretended. He was fascinated by the handle, and would not let me interrupt his play, until he saw that his sister's drill actually had the drill bit installed. He insisted on an immediate switch.

And then everything changed. His posture became intent, his face joyful. He knew. "I'm making holes! Mama, look, I'm actually making holes!!" No longer playing, but doing. Having the right tool, a good tool, that allowed him to do the thing, he became absolutely delighted.

A while ago I gave in and curmudgeonly bought a rotary cutter, a fancy quilting ruler, and mat. I have a perverse habit of thinking that if I can't make do (and by making do I mean making cuts like butter with the lovely Gingher scissors the fantastic Mr. S. gave me), then I've failed somehow. Luddite by nature, I often forget that discerning what makes a tool good and useful is a pretty important ability, more so than a knee-jerk reaction to the new and fancy.

And my goodness, do I ever enjoy this particular new and fancy. I sew a lot of things with squares in them, so this is helpful. The first project I started on, one that had been languishing in the to-do pile for quite a while, had me smiling like my kids with drills: really happy, feeling effective, and slightly maniacal.
We've been talking a lot about tools around our house lately. Tools for life. Things that get us through, help us flourish, soothe, cope, sustain, mend, strengthen. How it's worth learning and understanding what tools work best for the kind of work, the kind of person you are and the life you have.

It'll be interesting to see what we create with them.