Monday, October 20, 2014

In a Child’s Eyes: dedicated to E.J.S.Y.

By Beth Sullivan
There is nothing like becoming a Grandmother to shake up perceptions, open eyes and think of hope.
When we have our own children, we are busy being new parents, and trying to do things right and keeping them safe. More than thirty years later, we are armed with more knowledge, different priorities, as well as so many more experiences to share. While working with elementary school age children has always been my passion, thinking about starting with a blank slate, a brand new open mind, is a little daunting but at the same time is opening my eyes as well. I am truly seeing things differently and thinking how they might be seen for the first time by a little one.

Many questions to answer in the future

Really: how does one explain color? This time of year it is so abundant. All colors are mixed up with leaves and trees. How do they change? Why do they change? Do we explain by science or miracles and magic to a little one? October sky blue, filled with flying squawking Blue Jays, blue sea. Off shore waters change blue hues in a blink.
How to explain the colors of Autumn?

How to describe the changing color of the sky and water?

How do we begin to explain the mystery of birds and flight? I am not sure I understand it well enough to explain simply to a small child filled with curiosity and questions. Will there still be flights of Tree Swallows that create magic formations as they come to roost at night in the reeds along the coast? Will he wish to fly as I surely did…do?
How do birds fly?

Will Swallows still gather?

How about those little creatures, often overlooked and reviled- Spiders and slugs and bugs? They are special creatures too. Look closely at a slug….wait for those antennae to come out as it explores your finger. Watch the slow twisting gliding of its body as it changes shape and moves – mysterious, not “gross”. How do we instill caution about spiders that can bite but are not evil and mean, without creating fear?
What about the magic of butterflies? Light and airy yet strong enough to cover continents with their flights. Will there be Monarchs for my grandson to watch when he is old enough to understand how special they are? And how on earth do caterpillars become butterflies??
Will there be Monarchs to wonder at?

Woolly Bears are every child's favorite Caterpillar.

I can’t wait to take him on walks, let him climb a tree, look under a log, let him hold a bird and watch his face the first time he does. I will look forward to bringing him into swamps and getting muddy and helping him learn how to catch frogs and sneak up on snakes.
How to catch a frog?

In the mean time

All those things are still years away. But in the mean time I can look at things I love and try to imagine how a fresh young open mind will perceive them. I challenge you to do the same, just for yourself. It is quite eye-opening and a cause for hope. It also reinforces the conviction that we must do our best to preserve what we can so that there will be places for our next generations to explore and cherish.

Photographs by Beth Sullivan.

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