… is what daughter Kit calls it when she texts whatever she’s working on.
Kit has been Making a Thing since she could toddle. It started with 2D scribbles before pre-school. Soon she would cover dozens of pages of paper with detailed little characters. Her preschool teacher Miss Patty was so excited about the dinosaur Kit drew that she met me at the door, drawing in hand; she’d already written Kit’s name and age at the bottom, photocopied it, and shared it with the other teachers. See, I didn’t know it was precocious. It just looked like a kid’s drawing to me.
Kit and her neighborhood friend Juliet loved the Land Before Time animated movies. Between them, they’d collected an impressive herd of little toy dinosaurs. So, one of the Things Kit desperately wanted to make was her very own Great Valley. Her dad built one for her out of a cardboard box and model foam. Kit got to paint some of it and place the model trees and rocks. She got a lot of playtime mileage out of her Great Valley. Likewise, Playmobil and Legos could command hours of her attention. She often repurposed the people and animals in little tableaux of her own story-making, which she’d stage on a table top or window sill.
Until Kit was around eight years old, her ideas for 3-dimensional Things exceeded her ability to make them. She’d get so excited that she’d want me to stop whatever I was doing to help. Even when work or other plans didn’t supersede, her project ideas usually demanded some planning. I tend towards linear/methodical while Kit was non-linear and spontaneous from the get-go. When I had to put her off, she’d self-launch like the [cartoon] Tasmanian Devil of cut paper, glue, and what have you… then dissolve into frustration and tears. This went on for a while. And the clean-up part? So not happening. The glitter, sequins, popsicle sticks and feathers migrated their way into the weirdest places around the house. I was vacuuming up glitter for years. (Retroactive Note to self: ask friends not to give my kid an arts & crafts kit.)
Soon Kit was making lots of Things. She was particularly good at 3D construction. During one rainy winter, she amused herself at recess building a bridge of stones across a large, flooded dip in the playground. This turned into a two- to three-day project involving other kids, until playground-monitoring adults made them stop.
That summer or the next, I enrolled her in a one week girls-only day camp meant to encourage girls in the areas of math and engineering. The end of each camp day was allocated to sports games to “get the wiggles out”. Kit had zero interest in team sports, but spied great potential in some clustered tree trunks and embarked on a Thing. Exploiting the bark pulled in large “sheets” from the trees and other found materials, she built a fort within the trunks. The next day, a couple other campers staked out a second tree cluster to build a rival fort. The following day all the tree clusters had been claimed. Kit showed the other girls how to fashion bows and arrows from branches and leaves. The Game (whatever it was) was on. When I arrived to pick her up on Friday, the counselor in charge complained to me about Kit launching this insurrection. I apologized, but couldn’t resist pointing out — wasn’t the camp’s objective to encourage this very sort of activity? Just sayin’.
These were the first, but far from the last times when Kit’s impromptu events clashed with the local authority. She was like a one-girl flash mob.
Sometimes I was the local authority. Her timing (or the debris trail) could really fry my patience. Despite this, I was often surprised and delighted by what she could create in a few hours. Nothing I made at her age even comes close.
Kit attended few formal art classes or workshops before college, and worked fairly independently therein. From age eight to eighteen, here are a few of my very favorite Things. Not in strict chronological order, and the captions are mine:
Speaking of bows and arrows: Growing up, Kit was also notably nerdy about the natural sciences, in particular anthropology, paleontology, and certain animals. For a few years, I thought we were raising a Canis Lupine Jane Goodall… she was obsessed with wolves. I could just picture her venturing into the wilds of Canada on some grant to study and live among wolves. Instead of collecting cats, she would raise orphaned cubs and become the Wolf Lady. She’d write books and articles, and be much sought after as a lecturer in scientific circles. Which means she’d be obliged to leave her frozen tundra from time to time, to visit mom & dad in their twilight years.
By high school Kit was pointed firmly in the direction of a career in the Arts. Yet, it turns out that my unusual fantasy wasn’t entirely off base. In May of this year, Kit earned her Diploma in Costuming for Stage and Screen from Capilano University’s School of Motion Picture Arts in Vancouver, BC, Canada. She is hanging out her shingle there. We can safely state that Artsy Kit and Nerdy Kit co-exist and play well together to create interesting Things like these:
Not only did she graduate with a group of highly skilled & talented peers… one glowing project evaluation she forwarded about a year ago mentioned her excellent time management & clean-up skills!!!
These days, Kit’s parental units are simply standing by observing and celebrating her steady progress, looking forward to all her future Thingly endeavors.