Wednesday, February 11, 2009

March 2009 "Thinking of Children's Insights"

Perhaps you will soon be taking your children on vacation for a late-winter or early-spring holiday. I always tended to stuff my children as full of the history, geography, literature, culture of the place visited as I possibly, possibly could. It is fair turnabout to note well what children are feeling and saying. Recently I've been thinking of many interesting reactions of my youngest daughter in all our travels over the years, from the time when she was a baby to our arrival in Czechoslovakia, and later moving into the zamek.

Eight months old, she was sitting on my lap while we viewed a herd of zebras in a game park. At this moment she registered what she was seeing, her eyes growing large - these were the first animals she'd really noticed. She was baptized on the trip; Years later we needed the date so looked in her brother's notebook; interspersed with a sentence about seeing a lion, and lots of drawings of tanks and guns, was the sentence, “Today my sister was baptized”. Also in Africa, when she was 3 or 4, she brought her notebook, with pasted-in maps to her father. What she requested of him was to mark HOME - the town in the Middle East where we lived! It was all very well to visit Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nairobi, but she wanted HOME to be firmly marked.

When she was 5 she had one goal for our USA trip: getting a pair of “Party Shoes” - black patent Mary Janes. When she had those she said, “Okay. We can go home now.” Never mind that her father had a computer course, one child needed a small operation, I had to get some household supplies and clothes for everyone for the year, and we needed to visit relatives.

Some incidents in England, involving her at age 9, come to my mind. She really hated walking on tombstones. “Thank you, Becky!!”, she said with all her heart to the cousin who warned her about a tombstone on the floor in a small country church. I remember her amazement at the age of the Oxford “New College”, where we watched “The Tempest”. We also visited the pubs which C. S. Lewis and the other Inklings frequented. I bought her a copy of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, telling her that she was absolutely going to read it. Of course, she could read, but until that point had avoided full-length books; after that, you couldn't stop her. Her very best day was the day a neighbor in the village where we rented a house took her to school -PE, art, and music all in one day, and all the other little girls on the school bus.

A few years later she was with her sister, so my husband and I enjoyed the art of Florence, Italy, without complaints! But another time, in the Prado in Madrid she recognized a painting because of a set of coasters including that painting. The hour we spent there suited a child more than the 3 hours at the Uffizi would have.

When we drove to Czechoslovakia from Vienna in April 1990 most of the old border defenses were still very apparent. When she returned home to 9th grade one of the other students remarked, “Of course there is really no such thing as 'No-man's land'”. Our daughter immediately informed him that there certainly is, and that she had seen it!

She wrote poems about the zamek later, putting into them ages and sounds. If you didn't know better, you might think that she had actually lived here centuries ago.