Hanging out with the kids . . . and loving it!

Published 2:06 pm Wednesday, July 6, 2011

“I think at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

OK, I admit it. My grandchildren are about as perfect as they come. Aren’t everybody’s? In addition to the pleasure of their hugs and kisses, the workings of their minds keep me entertained and astounded at their creativity.

Following a baseball game last week, I took our 9-year-old grandsons, Jacks and Wilkins, to a fast food place, their favorite, for lunch. They both ordered chicken strips and French fries. (For them, that’s the sole offering on the menu.)

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Wilkins took a bite at the corner of a chicken strip, held it up, and said, “Look, Bebe. My chicken is shaped like Alabama.” I looked up from my salad and nodded. The chicken was absolutely shaped like Alabama.

So then Wilkins proceeded to bite off the bit of chicken on the bottom, turned the strip sideways, and said, “Now look: Kansas.”

“Nah,” said Jacks. “States are too easy. Let’s do countries.” He held up a long French fry.

“Peru,” he said. He picked up another one. “Peru.” Then another. “Peru again.”

Did Bebe almost choke on her salad, laughing? She did. How does a grandmother stay “interesting” in the midst of such cleverness?

This is something that’s been on my mind because granddaughter Caroline, also 9, is coming to spend a week with us this month, and I’ve been thinking about activities that might satisfy her curiosity and create memories of summertime fun at Bebe’s and Pop’s house.

Just when I was about to resort to planning a week of nothing but swimming and golf cart riding, I spotted a blurb about building “fairy houses.” I didn’t read the article at the time but resolved to find out more, which I did this morning.

What are fairy houses? Here’s an explanation from www.fairyhouses.com. There’s more data there, along with terrific pictures, but this is the basic info:

“Fairy Houses are small structures for fairies and nature’s friends to visit. Sticks, bark, dry grasses, pebbles, shells, feathers, seaweed, pine cones and nuts are just some of the natural materials used. Ranging from rustic to intricate ‘Fairy Mansions’, these whimsical habitats are built by children, families, gardeners and nature lovers . . .

“The simple challenge of creating a fairy house gives children a unique activity that encourages them to go outside and connect with the natural world, nurturing care and respect for the environment.

“The wave of fairy house building throughout the country was inspired by The Fairy Houses Series® of books, written and illustrated by Tracy Kane. The Series has popularized this wonderful outdoor activity that originally started on islands off the coast of New England.

 “Children first need to enjoy nature before they can appreciate and hopefully come to protect it as adults. The activity of building fairy houses offers a creative way for kids to get to know about nature. It encourages kids to head outside, use their imaginations and enjoy the wonders of nature…all while creating their own fairy habitats!”

I suppose I still have lots of child in me. Building a fairy house with Caroline, I hope, is going to be just the ticket, and I’ve already scouted good spots for our building efforts. We have a row of trees with gnarled trunks out here on Lake Nottalottawatta. We have goboodles of rocks. We have goose feathers and duck feathers and pine cones and funky sticks of every size and shape. I’m betting Caroline’s fresh eyes will find even more exotic materials for this fanciful fairy house.

And I’m betting something else . . . if we build it, they will come.

(Write: bethjacks@hotmail.com)