I don’t have kids.
But I do have friends and co-workers who have children, and it seems to me that today’s kids are very bored creatures, in general. At least compared to when I was their age. I don’t know what happened with creativity, but I am under the impression that it is now an option that many parents just can’t afford to offer their offspring.
I was an easily amused kid. But Kamsar was a real challenge, when it came to entertaining ourselves. Even if I spent a lot of time playing softball, tennis and taking long bicycle rides around town… Even if I spent a lot of time chatting and hanging around the other kids, there were still moments when we’d sit and start getting bored.
And getting bored was not an option.
There was no tv network, only one radio station (it was mainly a way for locals to announce weddings, funerals and events alike) and The Internets hadn’t conquered the world yet, so one day, I sat with my best friend, and we started brainstorming a bit.
Now, I think every little girl played the teacher at least one, and I was no exception. I had introduced my little brother to home schooling at a young age, and at the age of 10, he no longer agreed to sit for hours, being taught random things his wise sister had to pass on to him.
My best friend and I decided to approach a local primary school, and offer to come and give crafting lessons to the children, for free. I don’t think I even knew the word “volunteering” back then, but it seemed fun to become real teachers, even if we only taught sticking stuff together and drawing inside the lines.
The school was glad to accept our offer, and assigned us a class. We had one hour with the dozen of kids, aged between eight and twelve, twice a week. As soon as the deal was set, we started looking for crafting material. Easier said than done, in Kamsar, since there was no store selling anything we needed, and writing to our families back in Québec meant a three weeks wait back AND forth. Needless to say we were forced to be very creative. We asked the other kids to keep empty egg containers, toilet paper rolls… Looked for spare pairs of scissors anyone cared to lend to us.
And one day, we drove our bikes to the school, with our backpacks full of glitters, cotton balls and homemade glue.
The children were ecstatic! It really could have been awkward, since some of them were barely younger than us, but as soon as we entered the room, there was a clear teacher/student respect in the air. They called us “Tattie” (Auntie) and gathered around us to see what we were unpacking in the large table in the front of the classroom.
We knew there were no art classes in local schools, but we had clearly underestimated their lack of knowledge when it came to crafting. Most children had never held scissors in their hands, and the concept of a gift card was totally unknown to them.
This was so awkward to us… Where we came from, crafting was among the first things toddlers were introduced to. Mom probably started sticking Crayola crayons as soon as I could hold a firm fist around them. Yet these kids were blank canevases, litteraly.
I remember one of the first classes we gave them… It was close to Christmas, and we wanted to make cards, using cotton balls to make little snowmen glued to a piece of carton. A classic, right?
We hadn’t thought about all the questions that would come along the crafting itself. Explaining snow was probably the most difficult thing to do, for kids who had never seen any, and didn’t even have a freezer at home. And all these explanations were regularly punctuated with warnings not to eat the water/flour mixture off the popsicle sticks we had brought to stick the snowmen to the paper.
Valentine’s Day was a surprising challenge too… We had brought all kinds of heart shaped stuff to make a card for their parents. We hadn’t given a thought about the fact that Valentine’s Day didn’t mean anything for them. And when we brought up the subject of love itself, the giggles fused around us. Talking about love was obviously a taboo, and I don’t remember how we got out of that one, but after that day, we were far more cautious about our “themes”, keeping things basic for everybody’s sake!
We spent countless hours with “our” class, and quite frankly, I think we all learnt so much from the time spent together. The kids obviously loved it, even if we all knew they would probably never use the skills we taught them patiently.
Sometimes, I still like to think that there might me an artist, out there, that started out making a pencil holder out of a tin can and colorful wool…
One thing is for sure… My best friend and I never got bored preparing for and giving these lessons!
Via Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Lesson