I love sitting at tables covered with glue & paint, surrounded by children eager to begin creating. I especially enjoy the moment when a hush falls as the group settles into concentration, applying paint carefully to the small wooden dolls they hold in their hands.
Being part of this movement which encourages nourishing toys for children is an honor, but I sometimes wonder about this work I am doing. There is such clear value in researching cures for dangerous diseases; value in seeking to heal the wounds to our earth caused by pollution; value in working towards peace in war-torn nations; value in assuring that children of the world who hunger are fed.
|image from Making Peg Dolls by Margaret Bloom|
Then, last week I was humbled by an email from Melainey who wrote to me from the Midlands, England. Melainey's story gave me a reminder of what was right in front of me all along -- of the true & deeper value of encouraging the creative work of children. With Melainey's permission, I am sharing her words with you:
I am writing on rather a sad note, but a lovely one at the same time, if that is possible.
My daughter is 9 years old. She and I love your book and we have been creating all different kinds of peg people.
Two weeks ago a school friend of my daughter became unwell, and by early evening he had passed away. Our school has dealt with this sad and tragic loss with sensitivity. They have had counselors in the classroom along with the teachers to assist and give guidance to the children. We were also given literature to help us, as parents, understand what the children will be going through.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I sat and watched my daughter create a peg dolly designed wearing the little lad's favorite football team jersey. She put a number 1 on the front of the dolly and the dolly had become a miniature of the little lad. He was gently wrapped in tissue paper and taken to school to go on a memorial table which our school had set up, but something truly magical happened when the peg doll was placed where the little guy had sat in school. The children in his classroom started to interact with the peg dolly; children who were finding it hard to talk about their little friend, talked to peg dolly. The children sat with the doll; he was hugged and cradled in little hands. The teachers were amazed and touched by what was happening. They were overcome and saddened by the tragic loss of this lad, and to see the children coming to some terms with him passing by means of this peg dolly was meaningful and very touching. I was in tears when the school told me.
The peg doll now stands on the memorial table. I have been told by some children that the peg dolly is looking after all the tributes left on the table. The little doll will then be put in a memory box for the the parents of the lad and his family.
My heart goes out to the family who lost their precious son. And to Melainey -- thank you for sharing this story.