Getting Back With Kiddos
This week I had two visits with the quilt. On Wednesday, I brought the quilt and a few distracting toys to IEDA Relief in Houston. I was eager to help out with this organization that bring guidance to refugee communities in numerous countries. I was there to help entertain the children, while their moms attended a 2-hour ESL class.
That seemed easy enough. Except the moms and children didn't speak my language. And many were too young to speak anyway.
Some of the IEDA Staff
I was very impressed with the welcoming staff that greeted me upon arrival and joked with me after my volunteer time. I'm first to admit, I'm more skilled with the older children... I mean those not in diapers! I managed to keep my adorable gang of kiddos under control till about the last 20 minutes. Suddenly my puppets and singing and silly tricks all got old. I had about 5 babies crying at once.
It was tempting to confess, "Hey, I'm pretty sure you can find someone more qualified than myself..." But the enthusiasm of the staff and the determination of these moms from so many places, made me commit to returning!
Friday at the Shelter
On Friday I headed over to the Women's Shelter, where I've volunteered with the kids for about 15 years. I was so relaxed knowing what to expect. The weather was balmy, which meant we could move outside and the biggest surprise was that I only had 2 kids.
10 year old R. remembered me from my visit on MLK Day. "Can we play Twister on the quilt!" he begged. I had him examine the worn material to decide whether it could take the abuse. He on decided tag.I haven't played tag in a million years and there I was with 2 sprinting boys. I taught them Freeze Tag and hoped I could stay frozen for a long time.
They loved the little man that dances on the board. They took turns tapping the board to make him tap dance on the wooden paddle. When both screws jiggled loose and became lost, they gave the man rides on the toy cars.
Mother May I
It was an odd thing having these 2 young boys, without a crowd. It was a treat letting them decide what we should do. They decided they wanted me to teach them how to play "Mother May I?". Poor R. constantly had to return to the start line, when he forgot his "Mother May I?" He fumed and pouted, stomped and sulked. D. forgot just as often, but laughed at himself and skipped back to the start. R. noticed how much praise D. got for being a good sport and suddenly he began laughing when he forgot. I love it when other kids teach by example!
There was just enough time to pull out markers and paper for the boys to make some Valentine's cards. Neither boy had to think for a moment about who needed a card.
Inside their cards, they both wrote sweet words about what they loved about their moms. This was without any prompting from me. I asked if they were going to wait to give the cards on Valentine's Day. "Nope!" R. answered. D agreed. They were both going to give their cards that day. I was glad.
What Did I Learn?
I learned how different it is, to have time with just two kids. Obviously it was different than when I meet with a group. I already know how social one-on-one time is. However, having 2 was actually perfect. The play felt relaxed and I didn't have to play teacher or parent. I could guide a little, but I loved just listening. Kids learn so much from each other, as they work side by side.
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.