“Never confuse motion with action.” – Benjamin Franklin
A stout seagull sat on the pier piling with his young son. They were soaking up the first warm rays of the morning while the rest of the flock, 90 or so, was flying frantically about.
A cry came from the beach café, “FRENCH FRY!”
The whole flock descended on the trash bin in the parking lot. Feathers scattered as a cloud of dust enveloped the mob.
“Hey Dad. I’m hungry. Everybody else is getting breakfast!”
“Patience. Just wait a bit, boy.”
Instantly, another furor broke out. “CLAM! OVER HERE!”
The flock rose like a tornado and headed for a seaweed flotsam against the jetty. This time the layers of scrawny birds flapped furiously above the water keeping time with the surf.
The commotion seemed SO electric it made the youthful seagull anxious. He kept unfurling his wings flapping in imaginary flight and lifting inches above his perch. He added his voice to the already deafening din and gave his Dad a frustrated look.
“Come on DAD!”
The elder seagull silently kept his eyes trained out to sea.
“Just a bit longer. Here she comes.”
Feathers continued to scatter as the feeding riot moved quickly down the beach. By the time the weathered fishing boat pulled along the dock, the flock was a speck of a tumbleweed miles away. A breeze from the south brought one last diluted wail of “Pic-ic -asket!”.
The Dad calmly turned to his son, “Ready?”.
“Geez Dad. It’s too late NOW!”
Dad effortlessly lifted from the piling and landed softly on the deck. Then the stout old fellow waddled toward the newly moored boat just as men wheeled containers with their catch down the gangplank. Flopping fresh fish launched out at every angle from over-filled carts.
The two seagulls gobbled up those escapees until they were about to burst! Once they had eaten at their leisure, expending very little energy, and not drawing a bit of attention, the Dad winked at his son.
“Never confuse motion with action, my boy.”
Somewhere beyond the lighthouse, dark locust-like silhouettes momentarily eclipsed the rising sun followed by what sounded like a foghorn.
There is much to be learned from children.
Thankfully, I have grandchildren who will “keep it fresh” when I retire from providing day care. I’ve watched kids for the better part of my life. One thing I have attempted, is to reevaluate my preconceived notions of how they learn on a frequent basis. Remembering moments of inspiration, from my own childhood, have proven of extra value.
When I draw flowers, there’s my flashback moment to a time I had seen a fellow middle school student draw a lovely daisy. It was not face-front with even petals (the childhood normal) but “danced” on a crooked stem and drooped to one side. That moment changed my view of flower drawings forever. In fact, it was a moment of artistic maturing that improved how I would approach all future drawings.
The old saying, “Don’t be a copycat.” is total bunk in my modern approach. I’ve found this especially true from watching the children’s visual arts evolve. I spent many years with a policy that I should not draw around the kids. I believed that my skills might discourage them or take away the purity of being original. Luckily, I just couldn’t help joining in at “art time” because, gosh, it’s fun. It became clear to me that many of my kids became happier artists from following my lead.
My most recent example happened last week. I was tired of my blank dry erase board so I created a Springtime scene as I bopped around my kitchen cooking supper. The kids noticed it the next day and studied it often. My 7-year-old granddaughter asked if she might add to the board. I said sure and handed her the markers. When she asked me to see what she had done, I had expected my drawing to have been replaced with a messier version according to her skills. Below is the amended piece.
Katherine added two flowers and one lady bug. I rest my case.
A well-written short story is ripe with clues.
In one of my more recent blog posts, (In Defense of BIG kids…) I make a point about how often people can overlook keywords and how it can be responsible for misunderstandings.
Today, I added a blog post to my category Random Word Stories. These are short stories that I create using random words. The fun part is that I create the stories as an exercise. I limit my writing to “one sitting” which has never gone on for more than an hour. When I polish my ideas for posting, I find the adding of details, as clues, to be the deciding factor between just a story and a good story.
It occurred to me, shortly after my exercise, how valuable short stories are when training young readers to recognize clues. This would translate very well to the greater purpose of kids learning to discriminate among clues and keywords they deal with elsewhere.
I’ve provided a link, above, to my newest story.
There are poignant questions that could be asked about the story.
- What may have clouded Mia’s judgement in selecting a roommate?
- Did her occupation affect her judgement?
- What might she have done differently?
- What may have been warning signs of Holt’s problems?
- The story ends on a humorous note…what may she have asked on the questionnaire?
- What did bubblegum have to do with anything?
Certainly, there seems to be much material for discussion in such a short piece. Short stories make great homework assignments too. Their weight is not encumbering when it comes to time spent.
Perhaps I have stumbled upon a marketable use for my better stories? My new project will be to make them age and subject appropriate, of course. 🙂
There is an under tapped resource in our country. Hundreds of thousands of people are never considered for jobs due to the fact that they have no college degree.
Just because someone didn’t have the interest or funds for a college education, should not eliminate them automatically from high paying and creative job positions. Creative minds are often born in the world of society’s “underachievers”. After all, these folks have followed their own paths which, seems to me, one fine first creative step.
When will our country separate the concept of intelligence from that of formal education? They are not at all one in the same. There is a discrimination at a grand scale going on. Our country’s future, as an innovative force in the world, is falling victim to an over played devotion to titles and credentials.
It’s time that those doing the hiring do their job and LOOK for talent rather than expecting to find it in a file.
The worst thing that we can tell ourselves is “I can’t”. My granddaughter was using the phrase so often that I began giving her a signal, in the form of a “noogy”, every time that it left her lips. Not sure about the proper spelling but a noogy is that irritating rub of the knuckles on top of someone’s head. It has become a ritual and I have been the recipient of a few noogies myself.
I am constantly searching for projects. Being creative is a lifestyle and, once you “buy in”, there’s an appetite to satisfy. This appetite is for something new and exciting.
Well, I suggest when there is a lull in your projects to revisit those that you may have filed under the heading,”I can’t”.
Years ago I spent a short time sketching caricatures of my day care kids. It was a fling that I had not recalled until I browsed through some old photos. My “passion”, at that time, was to dabble in the art of illustrating children’s books.
I am going to give myself a noogy and try it again.
Here is what I had done and dismissed.
Over the weekend, I decided that my picnic table desperately needed a paint job . I invited Katherine ( my 7-year-old granddaughter) to help me give the table its “face lift”. We needed to take extra precautions and allow more time (all day) for the estimated completion but the value of this project , as a learning experience, soon became clear.
It would have been VERY much faster, and more tidy, to do it alone. I suspect that parents have a lot on their plate these days and easy/tidy options are a big temptation but, please consider, this list of the things that Katherine learned that day… Things that only doing can teach.
- Supplying a project can be costly and must be planned.
- Setting up is time-consuming but makes the job easier and better.
- Our hardware store happens to have a candy counter!
- Primer is a spray-on paint that makes the final paint last.
- Dipping your brush in too far makes lots of drips.
- Spreading the paint, too thinly, makes it start to dry and get sticky.
- Waiting between coats, makes for a better cover.
- Painting against the wood grain does not work, as well as, following it.
- Painting is very tiring for your arms.
- Always watch the edges for drips.
- Work from the center outward or you’ll be leaning in wet paint.
People rarely are born with skills. They learn them.
Parents please resist that “tidy reflex”, as often as, possible. Include your kids in everyday tasks and you’ll take part in building mighty skilled people.
BTW-We both were scraping yellow from our ears, hair and arms for days after.