Dear Jasper and Kestrel,
As a mother, grandmother, and teacher, I have had many opportunities to ponder the mystery that is (are?) children. They have been my hobby, my joy, my exhaustion and my job for over 38 years.
When they were tiny and mine, I was desperate to keep them fed and clean on little sleep and and even less money. As they grew, I realized that their minds needed to grow, as well. We invented games with words, sticks, food, blocks…anything to get them thinking.
Once I started teaching, my partner Laurel and I made games (but we called them lesson plans) that helped our students’ brains grow. How does watercolor paint act in the rain? What if you could paint a giant blue whale with tiny hand prints? Can you really have small children make traditional Japanese fish prints with Today’s Catch from Phil’s? (Yes. Yes, you can.)
I kept up the games in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and now 4th grade. I noticed that I could tell which students had had the benefit of games like these. Children who have conversations with their adults talk and listen better. Children who talk about shopping while shopping understand numbers and counting better. Children who are read to and tell stories do better in every aspect of school.
A while back, I got to start thinking about how to make games for tiny children again, because you, Jasper, came along, followed by Kestrel and Cousin Liza. Smelling vanilla, touching feathers, rolling down hills and splashing in puddles were our curriculum. Singing. rocking, and dancing were our music department.
And now that I am a live-in Grandma for a while, I am having fun making more games. Since Liza is beginning to know about words, we are reading books and playing with letters. She is getting braver, so we practice with bikes and climbing trees. She loves to color, so her Daddy, your Uncle David, brought home a giant gecko he printed out.
And as she grows intellectually, her lessons get more complex. What is history? What happens when people die? How do people live together peacefully? Big questions help little brains to grow.
So, with this perspective, I appreciate even more the silly games young mothers play with their babies, the constant connection of tummy packs, the mental stimulation of singing to, and dancing with, our babies.
So, keep it up, Moms and Grandmoms, Dads and Granddads, babysitters and Nanas!
Love, Grandma Judy