Connections, Chaos and Fun! Reading to Children in the Zoom Room.

Sometimes I see half a blurry face.  Sometimes I see only feet. Sometimes a dog suddenly appears on the screen.

 

4-year-old Abby and 6-year-old Sadie are two wiggly and giggly sisters.

The girl’s attention span can weave in and out. This is not unusual for children.  Especially when I am reading a book to them in front of a computer screen.

 

I do know they are listening to me because of how they respond.  The questions they ask:  “Where is the guard dog that barks as loudly as a dinosaur’s roar?”  Their faces are now glued to the screen.

 

They sometimes become very still and quiet, engaged in the story.

Their faces will zoom in closer to get a good look at the pictures.

At times they ask me to bring the book closer to the screen.  Especially when they are both trying to find the dragonflies.

 

When A Book Is More Beautiful In Real Life

I opened the box from Amazon and I was thrilled to see the book, “Molly Finds Her Purr” had arrived.  I knew I would like this book since I love Pamela Wight’s writing.  I have been following her popular blog for over a year.  Rough Wighting

Pamela Wight has written a delightful, engaging story about Molly, a lonely, stray cat. This story shares a message of kindness, inclusivity and compassion.  Molly meets some unique, colourful animal characters who help Molly feel accepted.  They create “A Circle of Friendship” and they help Molly find her purr. 

The detailed artwork in this book is exceptional. The vibrant colours help bring this captivating story and the animals to life. 

Detailed illustrations and vibrant colours

Life Is Different Right Now

Cuddling and reading stories used to always go together.  

We are all trying to find new ways to navigate this new life. 

      Our present day Love Language is Connecting. 

Today, this means virtual connections while we are sheltering-in-place.  Letting friends and family know we are thinking about them. 

                Children are adjusting to this new life, too.

 

We Set The Example For Our Children:

  • To be kind.  Respect the boundaries and recommendations to help people stay healthy and safe.  Yet not live in fear.
  • Adult worries do not belong on children’s shoulders. 
  • To model grace under pressure.
  • It is okay to feel sad one moment, and be smiling the next.  
  • To expect change.  Change is a constant in life always.  Especially today.
  • To feel hopeful.  People have adapted, evolved since the beginning of time.  We are still here.
  • To play.  To have fun.  To create.  To find joy in each day.
  • To be grateful.  Always remember how lucky we are.

                   Our children are watching us.  

Love Abby!

 

Reading a book to children in the Zoom room and on a computer screen can be a challenge.

It does make it easier when I am reading an engaging, fun, beautiful book like “Molly Finds Her Purr.”

Of course, I would rather cuddle with Abby and Sadie in person.

For now, I am happy to see feet, half a blurry face, a dog and

                        Especially a Smile.

Love Abby and Sadie!  Their smiles warm my heart.

 

What type of connections are you making with family, friends and children while we are sheltering-in-place? 

 

Postscript:  In future I plan to make one on one reading dates.  There was some bickering on whose turn it was to find the dragonfly on each page.  In the past, they have appreciated the dedicated time and undivided attention. 

Link to Goodreads review:  “Molly Finds Her Purr”

Amazon.ca:  “Molly Finds Her Purr”

Amazon.com“Molly Finds Her Purr”

Zoom reading date with Abby and Sadie photo credits:  Thank you to my daughter and my husband.

 

 

 

If This Is Wrong, I Don’t Want To Be Right

I feel pangs of guilt.  

Am I a terrible Mother and Grandmother?

Family Day

When our two daughters were very young, Sunday was always Family Day for us.  Nowadays, the kids call it Sunday/Fun Day.  Same day.  New name.

We carved out Sundays as a day we would spend together as a family.  We would go swimming, cross-country skiing, or hiking, depending on the season and the weather.

We would often take our girls on long Trail Hikes.  Nowadays, we call it Forest Bathing.  Same walk.  New name.

  • We would have fun, relaxed family time.
  • They would learn to appreciate nature.
  • We would all get some exercise and fresh air.
  • The goal was simply to be together.

 

Hiking With Very Young Children

It all sounds like a great idea.

For the first fifteen minutes.

How do you keep young children walking on a long hike, having fun, with minimal complaining?

My husband and I can only carry a thirty to fifty pound child for a short period of time.  We want to tire them out, not tire us out.

One Sunday, a spur of the moment decision resulted in the

               Birth Of A New Adventure! 

We Will Search For Licorice Trees 

Thirty-five years ago I packed some licorice candy strings along with healthy snacks in my knapsack for one of our hikes.

I began to discretely hang licorice strings further ahead on our path.  I did have an accomplice to distract the girls and keep an eye on them.  My complicit husband.

Finding the licorice trees did energize the girls and now they were running along the path.  They would squeal with delight when they found licorice strings hanging on a tree branch. 

              Long hikes became a lot more fun for the entire family.

 

Fast Forward Three Decades

My two daughters were recently reminiscing about our Sunday adventures when they were young girls.  They began giggling about the licorice trees.

I found out they believed for many years afterwards, licorice strings grew on trees.

A fleeting pang of guilt.  Am I a terrible Mother?

 

Last Sunday, A Funday

My husband and I took our two granddaughters for a hike last Sunday to a pretty area called the Kinsol Trestle.

I told four-year-old, Abby, and six-year-old, Sadie, to keep a lookout for licorice trees and licorice strings. 

They both gave me a puzzled, curious look. 

Sadie brought up a good point.  They had no idea what to look for?

Until they came across rainbow-coloured licorice strings hanging over a tree branch.

 

The Rest Of The Afternoon

Sadie and Abby searched high and low for this rare treasure growing in the forest.  For the rest of the afternoon there was no stopping the two of them.

We finally had to insist we turn around and head back to our vehicle.

Promises were made to return in the Spring to continue looking for this tasty treat. 

Our granddaughters did not question the existence of licorice trees.  They looked up at me with trusting eyes.

Is this wrong?  Have I gone too far?

A fleeting pang of guilt.  Am I a terrible Grandmother?

 

Perpetuating The Myths

Licorice trees belong in the category of the Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.  Fictitious, imaginary characters and fantasy brought to life by adults. 

I do have fleeting pangs of guilt when I bring these stories alive.

I also hear the squeals of laughter as Sadie and Abby run along the trail.  I see the joy and delight in their eyes when they find the licorice strings.    

My husband and I share a secret, knowing smile.  A moment in life where we are in this together.

                  Sharing memories.  Creating memories.

At The End Of The Day

We return Sadie and Abby to their parents late Sunday afternoon. 

They were bubbling over with excitement sharing the adventures of their day.  They also shared their bag of licorice strings with their Mom and Dad.

As we were leaving, Sadie yells out, “The Best Day Ever!”

                              

If This Is Wrong, I Don’t Want To Be Right 

Sadie and Abby will eventually find out the truth about the licorice trees.  I suspect they will giggle when they reminisce about their Sunday/Funday adventures.  

Three decades from now they may take their own children on a forest hike looking for licorice strings.  They may want to share the joy and delight of a new adventure.

They may want to spend a fun, relaxed Sunday, simply spending time together.

                              “The Best Day Ever!”

 

 

Have you played games to make long hikes fun for children?

Did you believe in imaginary characters when you were a child?

 

Postscript: 

About the Kinsol Trestle:  The Kinsol Trestle is also known as the Koksilah River Trestle.  It is one of the highest wooden railway trestles in the world. It provides a spectacular crossing of the Koksilah River. (Weblink)

Your visit:  If you come onto The Island  Vancouver Island Link   and visit the Kinsol Trestle, be on the lookout for licorice trees.  Please keep the rainbow-coloured licorice strings our little secret. These trees are very rare and we hope to find some licorice strings in the Spring on our next Trail Hike. 

Warning:  We make sure the girls do not touch anything or put anything in their mouths they find in the forest unless their parents or grandparents have given their approval.  They have received strict warnings in the past to not touch any mushrooms.  We do have poisonous mushrooms on The Island.

How do you teach children about death?

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Part one – January 23, 2018

Coincidence?

This afternoon, sad, teary-eyed Sadie shared with me that her fish had died.  She had this fish since she was born. 

Children often bring up topics when you are unprepared and you least expect it.  I looked at it as an opportunity to discuss death with a four year old.  

“Everyone and every living thing dies.  It is normal to feel sad.  Love for each other never dies.  Memories live on.  It is good to share your feelings.”  The usual things we say.

Questions from Sadie included:  “Was her fish in outer space?  Was my Dad in outer space?”  She was aware that my Dad had died many years ago.  

I told Sadie that I really wasn’t sure where her fish is and where my Dad is. We talked about heaven.

Sadie wanted to see pictures of my Dad.  I opened up the file on my computer from my last visit with my Dad.  My Dad was very compromised, elderly and in ill health.

Sadie noticed the Christmas decorations in the background.  She asked whether he had died at Christmas.  I told her, no.  Some time in January.

The hair rose on my arms.

I hunted down his memorial script.  May 4, 1929 – January 23, 2007.

A sob escapes my throat.

Coincidence?

 

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Part two – May 4, 2019

Sadie is now five years old.  One year older and one year wiser.

After a long, fun-filled day,  we were waiting for Sadie’s Mom to arrive to take her home.

                    This time I received an extra long hug.  She wouldn’t let go.

Then she said “I don’t want to forget you.  I looked at her and she had tears in her eyes.

I paused.  Where did this come from?  Does she know something I don’t know?

I was taken aback.  I didn’t have time to prepare an answer.  I said what I think are appropriate things to say to a five year old.  “You won’t forget me.  I will never forget you.  You will always be in my heart.”  I was a little emotional, too, although I tried my best to hide these feelings.

I get it.  I also don’t want to forget.

Memories surface around special holidays.  This year my Dad would have turned 90 years old on his birthday.

A few of my memories: 

  • I remember how birthdays were always a big deal in our house.  We always celebrated with a Black Forest Cake.
  • I remember how my Dad valued an education. On a very limited income,  he purchased the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica.  We would actually read these books on a daily basis. 
  • I remember how he was a gadget person.  The latest knives, blenders, recording devices, projectors, movie cameras.  We also had the first black and white tv on the block.
  • I still get misty-eyed when I hear a song from the Sound of Music, the first movie I saw with my Dad.
  • Most of all I remember the family values my Dad instilled in all of his children.  To him, love was a verb.  He showed us every day how much he cared about us. He loved children and unfortunately he did not have a chance to meet his amazing great grandchildren. 

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Memories can fade.  We will forget details about our loved ones, especially grandparents that may have left us many years ago.  We may have only a hazy recollection of events.

Sadie had questions about death and about my Dad in Part 1 of this story. 

How do we teach children about death?

When we have the privilege of spending time with children, we quickly realize that we will learn far more from children than they will learn from us.

Sadie taught me that it is okay to ask the hard questions. It is okay to love someone and be afraid of losing them.  It is okay to have tears in your eyes.

Sadie taught me that sometimes the only answer you really want is a very long hug and not let go.

Epilogue

A few weeks ago I was making some notes outside the yoga studio, waiting for my class to begin.  I was debating on whether I would write and share this story.  I walked into the studio and I met a friend who was telling me about her upcoming birthday plans.  I asked her what day is her birthday?  She said, May 4th.

Today would have been my Dad’s 90th birthday, May 4th.

Coincidence?

 

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