His Quilt

Quilt © 2009 Judy Hesselberth and Jacob, photos © 2009 John Hesselberth

Know how sometimes you blink and realize your kid had one of the monumental, brain leaps? Like those little neurons just fused somehow and a whole new world opened up?

My son went from drawing basically nothing a few weeks ago, to drawing whole towns filled with buildings and crazy, happy people, and smiling suns. Just like that. It wasn't that he couldn't draw, he just wouldn't. Stubborn. Part of it may have been that he preferred working three-dimensionally. He routinely leaves "sculptures" all around the house, carefully balanced towers of household clutter. I document all of them, thinking that when he is declared the next Frank Lloyd Wright I will be able to point and say, "See, I knew it all along." So I guess it only made sense that when he figured out that he could plan his 3-D world on 2-D paper, it was one of those aha moments.

His first rows of buildings were drawn with black permanent marker (yep, I'm a risk taker) on white paper and something about the bold simple shapes made me think these drawings needed documenting too. But not by me. It was time to drop a few not-so-subtle hints.

Lucky for me, my mom is an amazing quilter. By the time we showed up in her driveway for our most recent visit, she had a stack of fabric squares and a supply of fabric markers ready to go. She kept the instructions short and sweet. "Leave a little bit of room around the edge, so I can sew it together," and she got out of the way. As she says, kids don't need any art direction. Grown-ups just mess things up. 25 squares of fabric later, Jacob was done and Mom took over.

The best drawings were assembled into a town, with roads between the squares made from scraps of his grandpa's old pants (quilters waste nothing). I love it and I know he will too.