Dear Ollie…

Dear Ollie

While you’ve been away I’ve been a little busy! The quilt you have on your bed now was the product of a light bulb moment I had on Saturday evening. We’ve talked about how to furnish your new room and I know exactly how you’d like it but I hadn’t done anything to make it happen. You were living in a messy room that was half yours and half spare room. Saturday was the start of what you’ve seen today, I hope you like it…

I wanted to write to you so you will always know how and why this quilt was made. You know I love to sew and that I love to make you things, something which I hadn’t done for a while because you see for us our relationship had changed since you started school. I wasn’t mummy really, more your own personal, real life, walking talking (and teaching) tutor. You needed help; I could help you so that seemed the magic solution. Don’t get me wrong I wanted to help you with every fibre of my body as I saw your struggles with school and I saw the change in you, how you once skipped into school and then you started to question why you had to go at all. I remember you said to me ‘I sit at my desk and stare out of the window wishing I could run free…’ That said it all really; you were wishing for 6 hours of your life every day to be anywhere but there.

You said ‘I’m stupid’ and ‘I’m thick’ quite often. Your trouble is is that you are neither so not being able to write was something you just couldn’t understand. You knew you were behind and you were beginning to hate yourself for it and I stood on the side-lines completely helpless. I wanted to make it better but I just didn’t have the skills as knowing there’s a problem is so very different from being able to fix the cause of a problem. I couldn’t fix you and I constantly felt I was letting you down, something which I felt I’d done before.

So. Back to the quilt. This quilt was made in the year 2012 whilst you were at your Grandparents catching up with Aunties and your baby cousin. Daddy was away in San Francisco so I had my first ‘holiday’ in over 9 years. I spent time on my own, completely on my own, for hours. I visited exhibitions, caught up with friends and spent a lot of time just pondering. I am someone who loves to be busy and be with people but there is also a part of me that craves solitude. I can see me in you often when you go upstairs to your room and build your models from whatever comes to hand whilst listening to your CD stories. I understand your need for a few hours alone.

Out of the exhibitions came ideas, some of which I automatically thought of you (even when I’m totally alone I still think of you) so things will appear in the next few weeks around the house from your newly inspired mum. The quilt was one of those inspirations. The red white and blue of the colours I chose for you really summed up this amazing year of Golden Jubilee’s and Olympic sport. Thomas Hetherwick’s (he of the Olympic cauldron) spirit of experimentation ‘just because of the heck of it’ had me making my own strips of fabric in order to create a ‘jelly roll’ quilt for you. (I’ll explain that later when you’d be more interested over a cup of tea if you like!) It involved maths (not my strong point), art, design, textile skills, a bit of imagination and lots of love. I had no idea how the final design would turn out due to the nature of how it was made as this easy quilt is made in quite a structured yet random way.

2012 has been an amazing year for so many people. The country has partied for much of the summer despite the economic crisis happening in the background. We all know we’ll have to face the music and unplug our ears to the double dip recession and take the hard hits that are still come. I don’t want you to struggle when you’re older due to the ineptitude of those you never met but that’s for another blog another time.

2012 has been your year too. You grew from a child determined to hide what he could (and couldn’t) do from anyone who wanted to know and you began to trust those teaching you and you blossomed. In the beginning of the year when I asked you what you thought of school you said ‘school rocks!’ and I knew that your journey to feeling better about yourself had well and truly begun. You make friends so easily and I loved to see you looking forward to things happening at school.

2012 has been the year when you first began to write. Not just the odd word or even small sentence but really write. You’ve been so proud of the amount you can now write and the words were beginning to appear like something out of a Harry Potter film. I could see your words for the first time. I could see your thoughts. Lots of eye exercises, lots of writing practice, new glasses, extra time to help with your working memory showed us all little glimpses into your mind and slowly the door that had been so firmly bolted shut out of fear began to open and let us all in. The secret garden of your mind was blooming with all your beauty and thoughts and I think it always was, we just needed to find the key.

You are amazing, never forget that my darling.

So as I put on the new white bedding that you’ve been desperate for (‘I don’t want anything fancy Mummy, just really plain’) and I place the cushion I made from your old pyjamas and cot bed sheets (brushed cotton that’s been washed so many times that you love to snuggle up to it) with the blue check cushion I made when you were a baby on the pillows, I stop and think how far you’ve come. I put your new quilt on the top of the duvet and smooth it out looking at the colours and find the single bed sized angora red and cream striped blanket I crocheted for you because you used to get so cold at night and put that right at the end of your bed I know that you’ll like what I’ve done. I have one final cushion to finish off for you called ’10 things’ which I am hand sewing 10 written things about what you’ve done in 2012. It’s taken a long time to do as each letter and word is sewn in my, not very much, spare time.

The colour of 2012 is definitely red, white and blue but not in a Union Jack sort of way for us. This has been an amazing year because I have my son back. I am not your teacher, tutor or ‘the one who makes you write’ but just simply and ordinarily -your Mummy. I am the one who will design quilts (Tobes’ one is in the thinking process as I write!) make little things for you, give you cuddles when you need them and always be here when you want to come back to me because unlocking your mind has also unlocked your freedom. You no longer need me in quite the same way that you did as you can manage so well for yourself.

In the years to come you’ll probably forget 2012 and that’s why I’ve written you this letter so we both will always know of your amazing year. The quilt will get washed and fluff up, it might get used as an army soldier base, (rather than my 18 year old patchwork quilt!!) a snuggle blanket for the TV and it may even get taken off to university as a reminder of home. Either way reading this will show us both that things changed in this year and you began to smile so much more…


About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
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3 Responses to Dear Ollie…

  1. That is so well written Emma, and so tender xxx

  2. shona alderson says:

    OMG i have tears in my eyes, that letter is fabulous, I can hear you talking of my son, who thinks he is stupid, cant do it, will never do it, and like you I know the problem, I just right now cant solve the problems, which as his Mummy is very hard and very frustrating. We are on day 2 of my sons 3rd year and Im full of hope that this is the year that everything will ‘click’ for him. Thank you for giving me a little bit more hope xxxx

  3. Linda Mallandaine says:

    if only every child could have a mummy like you…this is so lovely x

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