Gummy lumps, a spitball necklace, and chasing children

Jüri Mildeberg is a famous Estonian painter, graphic artist, and illustrator. 

I cannot imagine a nicer start to my day. 

On my morning walk, I stop by Starr’s House. I walk up the driveway and hear laughter and activity. The children are outside playing in the yard. It’s fall. The light is warm and whispy clouds dart across the sky. Leaves dance in a breeze that will usher in cooler temperatures tomorrow.

I open the gate and the minute we make eye contact, the children call, “Chase me Susan!” So I do. Turn by turn I chase each child. Then Elijah shouts, “I’m chasing you,” and again I run.

I usually visit on Thursdays and today is Friday. I’m here to drop off their interview project. The interview is a series of several questions. Here’s one:

“What is one of the best things about you?” 

They said:

“That my Daddy loves me and I play a lot.”

“I help make pumpkin muffins.”

“My cheeks are soft. I’m soft.”

“My Grandma loves me.”

“Well, I can color, I can dress up, and I can catch butterflies without hurting them.”

“I’m a fast runner and I can climb trees.”

I take away from the interview experience how much children live in the moment and find joy in the gifts found in any day. The responses provide an opportunity to spend time looking at life from their view. Asking a question, then quieting myself to pay attention. Listening takes effort. When I do, it is a valuable gift to the children and me.

The children will give their parents the interview and a bracelet of beads they strung. I call the gift a gummy lump. 

Gummy lumps are any gifts made and given by a child to a loved one. 

This morning I pulled out a gummy lump made by my son. It's a spitball necklace. I am not making that up. I'm wearing it in memory of his birthday which is today. (He passed on.) I remember when he was the age of the kids I ran with this morning and the terrific, funny and fun things he said and did, much like what I experience at Starr’s House each week.

The spitball necklace! 

He made it when he was a student at Center Montessori School in Bradenton, Florida. His teacher, Missy Eckenrod, took a not-so-positive activity and turned it into this treasured object. That was 32 years ago. 

(This post was published November 9, 2012.)