Monthly Musing – March 2021 – Can-do thinking

I love it when you read a magazine article and it stops you in your tracks.

The one that I was reading was all about someone whose Grandma had commented disparagingly on the drawing she had given her when she was very young and she never really drew again after that.  It sounds so sad, and might also have you asking, “Why didn’t she ignore the Grandma?” or “Why didn’t she tell the Grandma how much she had upset her?” and I think we all know the answer to that.

Reading this, has an occasion sprung to mind when someone told you that you couldn’t do something?  Or can you see yourself in your childhood years feeling dispirited because someone else was better at doing something than you, so you felt that you might as well give up?  Yup, I think there might be more than a few of us.  For me, it was a high school teacher in dressmaking classes (oh yes, that really was a thing!) and I went from being confident and ready to tackle anything to never considering making my own clothes again.

I’ve often wondered if the teacher intended for that to happen.  I would hope not – if she enjoyed dressmaking enough to teach it, I’m sure that she would be horrified to think that she’d put someone off for life!  I think it’s more that she didn’t consider the impact of her words and I imagine that has been the case for most of us.  When we’re young, though, we think that older people know all the answers so if they say something they must be right, even if it makes us sad.  Now, as an adult capable of thinking around a situation, I believe that most of the time the words are just a reflection of how that person is feeling that day, or because they have been disappointed in an ambition themselves, or because they are focussed on their own outcome of the conversation and not how it might make you feel.

It’s up to us whether we let these put-downs still dictate how we are in our lives when we’ve grown up.  It’s OK to let them go and to see them for what they often are – someone else’s disappointment.  Just because someone told us we couldn’t do something (in their opinion!) in the past doesn’t mean that we can’t do it now or in the future.  I am always thrilled when I see someone knitting socks after being told that they couldn’t do it, that it would be too hard for them or another family member always makes the socks so there was no need for them to try.  It also makes me try very hard not to say similar things to my girls.  That doesn’t mean that I have to make them believe that they are better than they are, but it’s not for me to squash their ambitions, however big or small.

And every now and again, I get the sewing machine out.


A copy of "The Simple Things" magazine is lying on a wooden coffee table. Next to is a green half-knitted sock and an orange mug

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20 Responses

  1. happy hooker says:

    One of my school reports stated "She is a good draughtswoman, but lacks imagination." That really knocked my confidence in my ability to "do my own thing". It's only taken me 50 odd years to realise that it doesn't matter what others think. If I like it, that's all that matters. xx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Yes, that's absolutely right! It's such a shame it takes us so long to realise that sometimes, though xx

  2. Caz.P. says:

    Well , I used to get on my report for dress making "Carol is a little slow to finish". What the teacher didn't know was my mum had said" Make it last, cos I'm not buying any more material this term. haha. Mind you I am still slow.

  3. Susan Rayner says:

    Maths – my maths teacher in the very beginning of maths rather than Times Tables told me I was hopeless (they later found out my eyesight was too poor to see the board) and I have never been able to do any maths all my life- good with money – bad with figures – algebra etc remain a mystery to this day! I was terrified of the teacher who was one brought back to teach during WWII and had stayed on – an eldery spinster and seemingly very fierce- I met her many years later when she was in her 90s and she was the sweetest old lady! She would have been horrified how I had remembered her and how little I ever took in of a maths class ever after!!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      She probably would … and I bet you can do certain kinds of maths without thinking because they're not related to your classes. I was never very good at maths at school but I can do knitting maths because I love knitting! xx

  4. crochetncross_stitch says:

    Christine, you are so right. Your thoughts brought this back to me. When I was expecting my first son (now 47), I read somewhere, not sure if it was Dr Spock or Good Housekeeping, that we should never start sentences with negative thoughts when talking to our children, even when they have done something wrong. Tell a child enough times "you're stupid", "you're useless" or "you'll never amount to anything" and worst of all "you're bad", they will believe it and turn into that person. I did tell my sons off if they had done wrong but always tried to ensure it was done in a positive way and I am pleased to say that now they are both two well-adjusted, kind and thoughtful grown-ups who have become very good husbands and fathers. Words are very powerful and, as you say, can influence our whole life. Thanks, once again, for such thoughtful musings.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Yes, I think that's absolutely right. I've always tried very hard to use positive words with my girls but I am sure I won't always have got it right and I hope it won't hold them back! xx

  5. Jane Winter says:

    So true Christine. Sadly, the voice telling us that we cannot do something can also be our own and that can be just as damaging.

  6. The Puddle Stone says:

    Thank you I’m really enjoying your musings! What pattern are you using for the green socks please? Lissie x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      They're the Falling Hues pattern from the new Seasons collection – this was my prototype sock before the yarn was ready! xx

  7. Geraldine says:

    Very wise words, thank you.

  8. Fil says:

    I think the curriculum in schools should include a weekly module on how not to pay attention to someone's offhand comment – we've all been scarred one way or another with this kind of "sure it's only for your own good" kind of comment. I teach singing and this is the most common reason for people thinking they can't sing – some kindly aunt or teacher telling them to stand at the back and mouth the words or in one case "poor darling, she hasn't a note in her head!" to someone who spent 65 years wanting to sing and had the most beautiful voice hiding under all that anxiety. I'm really glad you take the sewing machine out now and again and look at how much pleasure your knitting has brought to the world :).

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Oh, you will see this kind of thing so often, I'm sure! What complicated creatures we humans are – but it's so lovely that you are able to help them find their voices! xx

  9. Juliana says:

    I really enjoyed this post. Have you ever read Margaret at thecraftycreek? She makes lots of her clothes, which I think is very gutsy nowadays. She also does fearless hand stitching of all kinds, and it's very inspiring. You might enjoy her blog. In the meantime, I am enjoying your blog. I no longer remember where I discovered you, but I am inspired by your writing and your ideas. (My third grade teacher was probably exhausted by all of us, but she was very dismissive of my little poems one day, and I have to admit that I never wrote another one, and I'm 71.)

    • Winwick Mum says:

      No, I haven't but I'll go and take a look at her blog, thank you! You should write poems again if you feel the urge to do so – you don't have to show anyone but if it makes you happy then who's to say not to?! xx

  10. Anonymous says:

    An art teacher once told me my idea to paint were silly (mr howells) from then on I grinned and beared art but I was heartbroken. In my late 40,s a friend said to me you are so artistic have you ever thought of studying art ? So I did and got my BA the six years it took me were the happiest times of my life.

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