Answering difficult questions


Last night, I was showing a few quilts to my physical therapist and a few patients. I got asked the question that I’m usually asked: “How long do these take you to quilt?” I’m always taken aback by this question. For the most part, I don’t keep track of the exact hours. And I also love quilting, so the number of hours is really irrelevant. I gave a ballpark estimate of hours, put away my quilts, and the quilt show was over. But I was left with an odd feeling … how do I answer this question.

For some reason, I bristle when I’m asked about the amount of time I spend on a quilt. I think I feel a judgement — as in, how much time do you waste quilting? Or maybe I just feel like the don’t understand the point of quilting (which, of course, they don’t). I’m so used to the reception of quilters that I don’t know how to respond to non-quilters.

I recently made a baby quilt for someone. He picked up the quilt, looked at the backing side, and said “Wow! This is gorgeous.” Somehow I felt he didn’t get it!

I also homeschool my kids. The homeschool question is: “What about socialization?” This question also amazes me, but I use it as an opportunity for education. I explain that homeschooled kids get plenty of socialization — there are homeschool bowling leagues, art classes, drama clubs, swim lessons … not to mention the unending field trips to museums, parks, radio stations, fire halls, etc. I also point out that public school isn’t necessary very social, as kids are often forbidden to talk during class or lunch. As a result, homeschoolers have more time to develop friendships and relationships. So I’m not offended by the socialization question, even though most homeschoolers call it the “S Question” and are prone to giving sarcastic responses.

I remember the first homeschooler I met. It was at an event for a medical condition. I said, “You must be really patient.” Now I realize that is another common comment that indicates a lack of understanding for homeschooling. When people comment that I must have the patience of a saint (which I certainly don’t), I calmly explain that homeschooling is easier because I am in control of the curriculum and the amount of school work. I’m not trying to force my child to do math worksheets in the evening, when they are  frustrated because they have already mastered the concept or are completely unsure how to complete the questions.

So, back to quilting. I wish I had a good answer to the “how long does it take” question. I’m not sure what people are really asking — if they think that it’s a complete waste of time or they are awed that I have the ability to work steadily on my craft. Do I just answer in hours, or do I need to educate them? If so, what do I say?

I have no answers. I’ve been homeschooling for more than seven years, so I’ve had a chance to develop some comebacks. I’m not there yet with quilting. Any suggestions would be welcome.


2 responses »

  1. I get the same kinds of questions about my crosstitch and say something like, “Well, it takes me about half an hour to use up one length of string, but I use crosstitch to keep busy when doing other things like watching TV or waiting here.” That won’t quite work for your quilts, except that you could say it is how you relax, and there are so many ways people “relax” that that can’t be out of their comfort zone.

    I homeschool too, and have had people question me about the weirdest things. One teacher wanted to know how I motivated my children if they didn’t get grades — like grades were the primary motivation for any student. (I pointed out that I could withhold, well, dinner if work wasn’t done .) I’ve gotten the socialization question mostly from older people to whom the idea of homeschooling is just too foreign, or from one friend of a friend who proceeded to give me a lecture about how homeschoolers were only comfortable with other homeschoolers, when he had unknowingly been enthusiastically interacting with mine for hours. He tried to apologize, but I just assured him that I wasn’t worried about that problem with mine.

    • Sounds like we have a lot in common, Sally. It always amazes me when people ask about socialization, usually while you are at a park, museum or art class and you child is actually socializing. Somehow they don’t get the irony. The other funny comment is that kids won’t learn vital lifeskills, such as waiting in line. I tell people that they can always wait in line at the bank or grocery store, they don’t need to be in school for that!

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