A while ago, my (Cathy’s) niece asked me why I only gave her (and her brother) books and crafts as gifts. I had suspected that she was sometimes disappointed her gift wasn’t a toy. I thought carefully before I answered. “Well honey”, I said, ” I want you and your brother to grow up knowing you are smart and creative. And I think books and arts and crafts help you to know that about yourself” She pondered that for few seconds and then said, “Ok, thanks”. We have never looked back.
Lately, my niece has taken to the magnetic poetry on my fridge (words on little magnets that you can move around to create meaningful messages). When she first noticed it, we only used it to find a word she knew. Then she moved on to constructing a sentence. When she came last weekend, she wanted to create a story. It was challenging, because she could only words she could find on the refrigerator. I was amazed at how long she stayed with the task. I was also intrigued by the fact she knew two words were synonyms. She didn’t call them that, she just knew they were the right word but spelled the wrong way. I was delighted how long we spent together looking for the right words to move our story forward. It ended up being a ‘scary’ story because the there was storm and the puppy screamed, “which can only happen in a not real, scary story” I was told. My niece was so thrilled with the results she invited several people at the family party to come and read it.
When we felt our little project was complete, I said to her “Brook, you are so creative and so smart” and she said, “I know”. That was my reward. She did know it. I also know what her next gift will be… a box of magnetic poetry for her own refridgerator at home. I don’t know if her parents will appreciate it, but she will. And that’s all that matters.