Learning to parent with patience, one stitch at a time

The only surprise is that it didn’t happen sooner. In nearly three years, my son has never touched my knitting, until last night. Around bedtime last night, I walked into the living room to see my son, in his pajamas, with two empty needles in one hand and a very long strand of lace weight yarn being pulled on in the other.

I’m not proud of my reaction, but all I could utter was a a single no, equal parts exasperated and mournful.  In his little hands, I saw hours of careful work, dissolving into a mess of tangled, pink yarn.

He took one look at the expression on my face and began to cry.

My husband, obviously approaching sainthood with each passing day, assessed the situation swiftly and scooped him up for a calm, quiet chat in his room. Silently and resentfully, I tried to rescue as much of my knitting as I could. I looked at the back of my cable back shell, scanning for dropped stitches and trying to figure out where the cable belonged, and on which row. I started to despair at being able to save any of it.  Then I heard the tiny voice upstairs, “I wanted to make a sweater for Mommy so she could wear it right away. I was helping.”

My resurrected cable back shell in Dream in Color Baby

My resurrected cable back shell in Dream in Color Baby in Ruby River

I took a deep breath and considered things anew. Knitting, like parenting, is the accumulation of countless tiny actions, frequently repetitive, sometimes requiring extreme patience, almost always accomplished for love.  I went upstairs, and gave my son a hug, and told him that I love him.  Later, I began to pick through the mess, and resolved that the next time, I wouldn’t need a swooping partner or a poignant word from my son. With a little patience, I rescued about half of my work.  Today, with a little patience, I was a better parent.

I’m not the parent I want to be yet, but I’m working on it. And next time he gets into my knitting, I’ll be more patient, or maybe I’ll just start leaving it out of reach.


7 thoughts on “Learning to parent with patience, one stitch at a time

  1. Helen Adams

    I’d say both Mommy and Daddy are doing very well . How nice that you little guy values what you do enough to want to follow your example ….Helen

  2. Pat(ricia)

    I am not a parent and will never be, unless one could consider my “pets” as children. And no, I’m not being off-hand when I say this.
    I don’t think there are any “sainthood” rules that can apply, other than as people, and especially as parents, all one can do is the best one can, given the situation and circumstances, at any given time. Sometimes all that is needed is distance and perspective, and I think you have found that here. Your analogy about knitting and parenthood is spot on, in my opinion.

    Perhaps as a thought, although I don’t know the age of your son, but maybe you could spend some time showing him what it is you’re doing when knitting, so that he understands? Maybe, if old enough, you could show him the basics and let him play with his own set of wool and needles, under your supervision?

    All I can offer you is this thought: nothing is more important than love and understanding between a parent and child, but you already know that. It is reflected in your posts. I wish I could say that I had such understanding with my kitten and puppy … they don’t mind if I’m royally ticked when they attack my knitting, even as I do it.

    1. lisagono Post author

      It’s funny, earlier that day, my niece (a preschooler) had asked to see what I was doing. As soon as I started to show her, my son (also a preschooler) wanted to see too. I think showing them may actually have caused the whole thing…. I’ve read that around 8 is the right time to show little ones how to knit – I really hope that in 4 or 5 years my son or his cousin are interested enough for me to share it with!

  3. Pat(ricia)

    Ahh curious minds means curious little hands 🙂

    I suppose the only thing to note, although I do know people who learned to knit when very young, 4 being the youngest, is you’ll know if and when they will be ready for it. At that tender age everything is exciting and new, but sometimes the patience skills just haven’t kicked in yet. As long as you both have come to a new understanding of things, I’m sure it’ll be fine. But maybe make sure you’re knitting/crafting is out of reach … just in case. It’s a game I play around my place … but sometimes the cat is a little to sneaky nonetheless 😉

  4. lazersheep

    I have a 1 year old, and I’m just waiting for this to happen haha! How sweet your little guy is for wanting to help you though 🙂 I’ve taught 5 year olds to knit before, and I can’t wait until my little girl is big enough to hold the needles ❤


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