Today I was out faithfully doing my daily aerobic on my neighborhood’s walking path, chuffing along, keeping a safe distance from the occasional fellow walker of course, when I came across a number of chalk drawings on the walkway every few hundred yards. Sidewalk chalk drawings are now becoming an excellent outlet for those mostly cooped up inside and are often meant to give observers comforting gestures and messages. They seem to be popping up everywhere; on walkway, streets, and walls. It’s sort of the new temporary graffiti!
However, my walk-chalk drawings were a bit different. There was something quite simple about these drawings. The art seemed to be quick expressions of images and thoughts. I was anxious to get to the next one along the line, then the next and then the next, picking up my pace, which certainly helped my exercise! As I passed by what I imagined might have been the last one, a rainbow and a sun scribbled looking like they were purposely near each other, I looked up and noticed a little ahead along the path, a mom and her little preschool girl carrying an overflowing bucket of chalk. You know, the kind you find in the bulk aisle of the toy store. I could hear the little girl say, “Mommy, this will cheer them up, cuz the sun and the rainbow are good friends.”
I stopped to take a photo and remembered young children have a wonderful ability to tell stories through their drawings. Yes, if you stop for a moment and observe, you will find that a child's insight on life is simple yet meaningful. Some call it an innocence in a much-to-learn world, but if you watch and listen, they have an innate ability to look at things as they are and make the most of whatever is happening around them.
As I am sure, many of you with little ones at home during this extraordinary time are often looking for things to help them get through the daily sameness. If you haven’t already, what you might want to try, is getting down on the floor and playing right beside them. Listen to how they play. Listen to the stories they tell, as strange as they sometimes are. "The cow sits on the barn so they can watch over the chickens, while the farmer eats noodles.”, I once overheard a little one talking while she played with her animal figures. They have an innocent non-filter that helps create their imaginative world and sometimes points out that the simplest things are sometimes the most poignant.
Those toys are more than just fanciful objects to a young child. They are the tools that ignite their imaginations and allow them to tell their stories. That's why toys that are designed for open-ended stories are such essential tools in the toy box! If you really want to hear beautiful stories, have them draw with a crayon or chalk, then have them tell you about it! It will brighten your day and help them build their important communication skills. If you really want to hear great stories, have them draw a picture and have them act it out with their toys!
Each day as I walk by that sun and rainbow chalk drawing, I smile, and even though it fades away slowly every day, I remember what that little girl told her mother, “…this will cheer them up…”. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a new drawing and story that very next day!
The chalk drawings fade away, much like the horrendous health problem will eventually, but those stories remain. Listen, and you both will learn something new.