WORDPLAY STAR OF THE WEEK
In collaboration with KidsPlay Children's Museum, Torrington CT
Marisa is nine years old and understands emotions, ranging from being ecstatic about birthday parties and Christmas to crying about sad or mad times and then crying some more. If she’s sad, she finds joy in her puppy Lincoln. He snuggles with her and makes her laugh. When Lincoln’s not around, she knows that thinking and talking about what makes her sad or mad will usually make her feel better. However, she’s also discovered that crying often helps. Marisa shares that reaching out to a friend is something she knows how to do. She comforts a sad friend with words, offering a hug, reassuring that things will get better–the lost cat will be found, another school day will arrive.
She has discovered an important way to be happy herself. Sending a message of thank you is something that works for her. For example, just recently, she started a happy day with a chalk written message at the end of her driveway, “Thank you doctors!” Marisa loves to hug her puppy Lincoln and knows that wearing a smile tells others that she is happy. She knows that happiness is something we can bring to others, giving them a reason to smile too.
Our Star of the Week has friends and smiles in all shapes and sizes. Madison is 6 years old and knows that one secret to happiness is snuggling. She knows that smiles can be big and small. Friends, from school and about her size, bring her big happiness by asking if she wants a hug; if she wants to be their friend; if she wants to play. She uses those same questions to reach out to her friends when they are feeling unhappy. “Do you want to play with me? I have a game we could play, hide, and seek!”
One thing that makes Madison sad now is that she misses those friends from school. She misses their questions for her, and the times she cheers them up. That’s when having friends in all shapes and sizes is very important. Her 3 friends — Eeyore, small, blue and made from plastic; Cozy, a soft, long blanket crocheted by her great grandmother when Madison was born; and Piggy, pink, soft, small and stuffed — are there for a snuggle when she’s sad. If she can’t locate them, she has Lincoln who is not only “very cute,” but also very snuggly. He’s brown, wiggly, and shaped like a real puppy! He is Madison’s real puppy!
Dimitris is part of the Kindness Squad at his school. It’s one of the things that makes him feel good. He has many thoughts about what he likes to do: having his birthday (he just turned 9), learning to ride his bike, hugging his YaYaBear (a gift from his own YaYa, his grandmother), helping his student council plan a food drive, and creating the slogan for the food drive: “School might be cancelled, but kindness is never cancelled.” Dimitris chooses happiness with delight, like the way he chose pancakes for 3 days in a row because, as he cheered, “Yea! I like my pancakes!”
Dimitris loves to learn; he knows a word or phrase for happiness in 5 languages, including Italian – andra totto bien – which means “Everything’s going to be alright.” He is excited to get a new computer and to learn coding. He also has some good ideas about what to do when things are not happy. His routine includes marching around with the chant, “I’m bored! I’m bored!” His strategy doesn’t stop there though. He lays on his bed and starts thinking, “What can I do if I can’t be bored?” Then his brain comes up with an option or two, like writing or playing with LEGOs.
Dimitris has a happy way of spending time with his family and his stuffed animals. His mom, dad, sister Anna, grandmother, and grandfather or Momba are there to ask, “What do you want to play? LEGOs?” It is easy for Dimitris to notice when someone else might be bored or sad and to share the questions that his family shares with him: “Are you OK? Well, what do you want to play? You want to play LEGOs?” Happiness and enthusiasm are contagious when Dimitris talks. He describes himself: “When it comes to feelings and emotions, I’m pretty good with it. Okie-dokie!” …and he is!
One of the things that makes Dimitris happy is learning new things, including new words in different languages.
When Maeve feels happy, it may be that she has been playing with her dolls and her sisters. Happiness might be the feeling she has sitting at her kitchen table, playing with “fluffy” shaving cream up to her elbows. When she’s happy, she is probably wearing a big smile. Like most of us, Maeve wears other faces.
Sometimes, she may look sad, calm, or mad. She depends on coloring, a favorite teddy bear toy, and snuggling with her blankets to bring back her smiling face. Maeve understands that other people also wear different faces to give us hints of what they may be feeling inside. She recognizes that sometimes people just feel unattached to other people. If she noticed that someone looked unhappy, Maeve would ask them to play something fun. She would suggest some of her ideas about what is fun, like “we could run or roll down a hill.”
Maeve takes time to smile and laugh. With her four-year-old wisdom, she knows that sometimes a person needs to know what to do to feel happier and bring back smiles and laughter. She knows what works for her own happiness and has ideas for the happiness of others.
Maeve really enjoys playing with shaving cream. She has a safe place to do that and permission from her parents.Maeve thought about being interviewed for Star of the Week for a long time. Maeve decided it was fun and wants to keep talking about her feelings!
Come meet our Star of the Week and think about all the ways happiness finds her. Nine-year-old Isabella feels lonely at times because she is not able to go up to children in a park like she used to. Like many of us, her world has changed but she continues to include happiness in her world. She shares her happiness by being with her family, having a birthday parade, and hearing that her little brother loves her.
Isabella has much to share with us about happiness, cheering up, and comforting. Share her ideas with your family, young and old. Try closing your eyes to make a happy picture in your imagination. Wouldn’t it be special to draw what your family pictured when they closed their eyes to picture happiness?
PICTURING PEACE IN THE PANDEMIC
In collaboration with The Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury CT
While Picturing Peace has always emphasized peace, these are unusual times. Today there is an Invisible Enemy that is a great disruptor of personal and community peace. The photographs we take now can act as shields against the Covid-19 virus, capturing within a picture’s frame our fears and anxieties, but also showing images of strength and determination.
As we confront the latest assault on our feelings of peace, the coronavirus pandemic, the Picturing Peace method of using language and photography can help cope with the worries all of us have. Search your emotions to express through photographs how you feel about this daily threat. What is your approach to fighting the enemy? Exercise your imagination to create photographs and short narratives that help you—and everyone—overcome this disruption to our peace of mind.