Finn had his parent-teacher conference at preschool last week, and one of the things that we took away from it was the importance of allowing four-year-olds to focus on the process rather than the product. Sean and I are both product people. Many a night Sean starts out playing blocks with the kids and ends up creating the world's greatest block creation while the kids have moved onto something else. Many an evening I deny Finn the opportunity to help with the trickier parts of dinner because I want something just so. We both have a tendency to initiate art projects that have a definitive end product rather than putting out the art supplies and letting him explore.
"Hey, Finn, how would you like to make yourself a scarf?"
"Do I get to press the pedal on the sewing machine?"
And so, for the next forty-five minutes, Finn made a scarf. I tried to be as hands-off as I could while still ensuring his safety. I may have hovered a bit when he sewed that one seam on the sewing machine, and I did set the machine to its very slowest setting, but he did press the pedal himself -- in a standing position. I don't usually let him use my fabric scissors, but with close supervision he was able to cut the fringe entirely by himself. And I resisted the urge to go back and clean it up when he was done. It is perfect just the way it is.
End result: a scarf made with two lengths of fleece with a seam up the middle and fringed ends.
Bigger result: the proudest four year old I have ever seen. Mama's pretty proud too.