Big ideas

Rocketships, tent-sized playgrounds and lemonade pools

By VICTORIA HOFFMANN
Posted 8/10/22

Childhood has three main ingredients: having fun, creativity and a handful of innocence. Those ingredients bring us, the “big kids,” a lot of joy, so let me share this with all of …

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Big ideas

Rocketships, tent-sized playgrounds and lemonade pools

Posted

Childhood has three main ingredients: having fun, creativity and a handful of innocence. Those ingredients bring us, the “big kids,” a lot of joy, so let me share this with all of you.

During Riverfest, the River Reporter launched a community dialogue, “Let’s Talk,” about what people want to see happen in their town.

We have had such insightful and heartfelt conversations with dozens upon dozens of kids and adults from the Upper Delaware region.

But that day, I had a conversation with a little girl who not only made me remember what it’s like to think like a kid, but how creative and inspiring children can be.

She came to our booth, hiding behind her mom. I asked them what they’d like to see. The mom talked to someone else at the booth, so it was just the little girl and me.

I am 18, so little kids are cute and all, but for some reason, from 16 to 21, you can forget how to talk to them. So I asked her one of our activity prompts, and I’m glad I did.

“So, if you can have anything in your town, what would you want? Would you want a pool or an ice cream shop?”

“I want princesses, unicorns and fairies to be real,” she said.

I grabbed a piece of paper and gave her a marker. She then started to write her answer as I spelled out each word to her. If she wanted princesses, fairies and unicorns, well, in my mind, at that moment, she was going to get it. Innocence is one of those childhood ingredients.

Being 18 is weird. I have exposure to things that kids wouldn’t understand. But people hear, read and see a lot and eventually, this innocent view of the world starts to dissipate. However, these interactions serve as a reminder of joy.

I remember when I thought I could be an ambulance, I’m serious. I had just watched “Transformers” and figured I could do the same. I was innocent and did not understand I could not turn into a truck, just like that little girl wants fairies and unicorns to be real.

Then she said she loves questions and wanted to answer more. I repeated the original question, trying to see if she would say the same thing. She completely blew my expectations out of the park.

She had said that she wanted a park, originally the size of me, but we bargained for the size of the tent. This park would include “a water slide, four swings, a pool inside of the playground, filled with lemonade,” so she could have a swim and a drink.

At this point, I was having a field day. The type of fun, another ingredient in childhood, was something only a child could create.

She giggled as I wrote down her answer and pleaded for more questions. I asked about colors, animals, Disney princesses and the whole nine yards. I then looked back at the prompts, and one was, “What would you most want the River Reporter to cover?”

Of course, she is not an avid newspaper reader, so I reworded the question.

“If you could learn one thing in school, what would it be?” I asked.

“How to build a rocket ship,” she said without skipping a beat.

That’s the last ingredient in childhood: creativity.

At that young age, anything seems possible. You hear about space, and the next thing you know, you want to be an astronaut. You see pretty dresses and want to be a fashion designer. You hear music and want to be a pop star.

When you’re six, with a bit of imagination and creativity, the world is your oyster. Carpe diem.

It’s sad to think that getting older means that the world doesn’t seem as bright as it once did. Sometimes you need a little refresher on the small joys of life.

That little girl reminded me of that.

Embrace childhood. Build your own rocketship. Visit https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/childrens-article/craft-a-diy-rocket-from-see-you-in-the-cosmos.

May it make your world seem a little brighter, even for a fleeting moment.

Victoria Hoffmann is an intern at the River Reporter.

Let’s talk about important issues

By LAURIE STUART

Conventional wisdom says we can never really understand another’s experience until we walk in their shoes. To me, this means being open to allowing someone’s experience to be theirs, without comparison to our own understanding and experience.

When we’re able to do that, humans often muster a little bit more empathy and compassion. To mid-19th century philosopher Henry Nelson Wieman, this “creative event” is a process of reorganization that increases human good. He further divided the experience into four subevents:  “emerging awareness of qualitative meaning derived from other persons through communication,” “integrating these new meanings with others previously acquired,” “expanding the richness of quality in the appreciable world by enlarging its meaning,” and “deepening the community among those who participate in this total creative event of intercommunication.”

In other words, when we are able to tell our stories and hear those of others, there is a creative exchange that brings out the best of our humanity. This connection is what is possible when we actually communicate.

At this time of great disruption in our communities and a division between ideologies, talking together is of utmost importance. And sharing your thoughts in the pages of the River Reporter is a great way to start. Send letters and opinion pieces to copyeditor@riverreporter.com.

They say that nothing ever changes by talking about it. But it does. And writing about it helps focus your thoughts even more.

Let’s give it a whirl. Write us today.

"Let's Talk", community dialogue, kids, community, communication

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