A couple of days ago I was tidying up the house after my daughter had left for school. She had left her breakfast dishes downstairs on the coffee table as usual, and while I was picking them up and inwardly complaining about her messiness I found an origami flower. For a moment I was going to toss it into the trash, until I realized that not everyone just finds origami treasures hidden in various spots in their home. You see, dear friends, I do.
A few years ago a new friend came into our lives. He met my husband through work but very quickly became a family friend, and, just as quickly, became family. This friend has many wonderful qualities, but perhaps one of the most endearing is his ability to do origami, and his interest in sharing this talent with children. Almost immediately after meeting my daughter he began teaching her to fold, supplying her with paper and books. It soon became tradition that he would show up for our frequent dinner meetings with a new origami book, kit, or papers, and they would spend time in the restaurants frantically folding before our meals arrived.
Our friend was very pleased that my daughter seemed to have a knack for this art. He says she has a special gift with spatial relationships (I'm not even entirely clear what this means, but apparently it's good), and this has enabled her to master some fairly difficult origami pieces. Over the years her folding has both intensified and grown more elaborate, with flowers quickly becoming some of her favourite pieces. She has folded papers for waiters and waitresses, chefs and concierges. She has folded for teachers, friends, and, just recently, her first boyfriend. She has folded for us too, of course, and presented them to us as gifts. She folds when she is bored, or when she is happy, and, sometimes, when she is worried, she seems to fold to relax.
My favourite origami pieces, though, are the ones I just find around the house. A spare bit of paper, a post-it note, or even a bookmark can be rapidly folded into a flower or a bird and left sitting on a table or sofa. She will fold them without even thinking about it, her little hands remembering every crease and bend. Then she will just leave them behind as she goes off to her day, and I find them as I go about mine. Many times I've just put them aside or tossed them out and not even thought about it, but the other day I did. It occurred to me that one day when she has left home for good there will be no tiny origami flowers left behind for me to find, and no tiny paper birds on the floor to pick up. What I've taken for granted for years will cease to happen in my home, and she will instead fold these little treasures and leave them behind to be found by her room-mates, her partner, and perhaps, some day, her own children. Instead of tossing the origami flower into the trash that day I picked it up and placed it gently on the table for when she returned home. I realized that every single bit of folded paper is a little treasure, as is every day I have with her.