When I finished grading a set of papers last night, I wasn't done: I needed to turn a pair of The Offspring's pants into shorts.
I miscalculated. In previous years, he's never outgrown shorts -- they just keep getting shorter. This year, though, he noticed that all the other boys' shorts are knee-length, and he wants to fit in.
There are alternatives: I could have planned a trip to the Children's Place store in the neighborhood, or the Old Navy a little farther afield, and bought him some shorts for this season. There's a budget, though, and that would mean trade-offs.
I could have let him choose between short shorts and long pants. But as an immigrant kid, I frequently wore weird outfits to school. I didn't want to force that choice.
And there were three pairs of pants lying around, two with holes in the knees, the other way too short, and I took one of those, cut off the bottoms, and started hemming.
I was a little grumpy about the process. My mother is a far better seamstress, and would have worked more quickly and more neatly; I wished I'd had more practice. But they were corduroys, and that stuff is forgiving when it comes to seeing stitches.
After a few minutes, the rhythm of stitching took over, even though it was a frequently interrupted rhythm. Everyone else was asleep, and the apartment was peaceful. And given a break from a blinking-flashing-always awake screen, my eyeballs started to rest.
I finished faster than expected, and I was far less wound up than when I started. It turned out to be a nice way to end the day: and as a bonus, fits in well with my financial and environmental commitments.