Saturday was a special day for me.
I had just finished a puppet show at a lovely little 3 year old girl’s birthday party and was emerging from behind the puppet booth. Waiting for me was one of the older audience members, a young lady of 11 years old. I had been watching this girl during the show , as I peeked through the black fabric from behind the puppet booth. I like to gauge my little audience members reaction during the show so I can up the pace or slow things down or throw in a good chase if needs be. I had spotted this particular young lady as she had stood out as being a great role model for the younger children, hopping alongside them with naughty Bobby Bunny and providing a nice safe lap to sit on when they were finished. She was being so kind and supportive and not at all ‘too cool for school’ that youngsters these days are supposedly expected to be.
I believe with passion that children are capable of great levels of concentration no matter how old they are. It really just depends what you expect them to concentrate on.
In this digital age we are constantly told that our children have the attention span of a gnat or a goldfish. Children’s television programming is based on this supposition, requiring lots of fast action and constant changing to keep the attention of the young audience. Cartoons are fast action and noisy , attempting to hold on to our imaginations. It must be the case that children have short attention spans then?
I don’t agree. Give a child attention of the human variety. Pay heed to their likes and tickle their funny bones and you will keep their attention for as long as you want. It is not unknown for me to have a bunch of two year old’s hanging off my every word and action for a good hour. We will play familiar games and do lots of hopping and play with words like Nincompoop and giggle till our bellies hurt. The parents are often astonished seeing their children so engaged . Is this magic? Not at all. This is just simple human contact, a grown up who is prepared to play alongside a child , like a child, making play something special and important.
Back to my lovely 11 year old girl. She looked at me with big brown puppy dog eyes and said : ” I remember you from when I was 3! It was the same show, I can’t believe it! ”
The look of sheer wonderment and excitement in her eyes and the clear emotional connection in her voice was both touching and validating. The continuity for me was so comforting. To know that I create cherished memories in young peoples minds is almost overwhelming.
Our children are capable of much more than we know. Let’s give them a chance to live life in the slow, human lane in this digital fast paced world of ours. For it is in that slow human lane that we find joy and make memories.