Sunday 26 March 2017

The community centre at the library

was busy yesterday. Yes, I do mean the community centre at the library and not the library at the community centre. 
Our local library, as I have said elsewhere in this blog, is at the centre of a great many activities.
Yesterday there was plenty of activity  yet again. The Scrabble group had the meeting rooms - the dividing folding door had been opened out to make one big one. The knitting group had to meet in the main area.
We had some newcomers. They had been thinking about coming for a little while, a young mother with two girls in the lower and mid primary school. The younger one had some "French knitting" or "tomboy stitch" or "i-cord" - whatever you want to call it.  She had already done a considerable length. We asked what she was going to do with it. She didn't know. She was just doing it. One of the regulars suggested plaiting it into a head band. 
Her sister was learning to crochet. She is making herself a small "blanket". It will be about a metre square. All she needs to do is go backwards and forwards working double and treble crochet (single and double to my US readers). 
Their mother was working on a slightly more complex blanket. It looked good.
I am always curious how it is that children apparently want to do these things - and so are other regular members of the group. We discovered that the family had, until recently, been living in another country with a very different culture. They had only recently returned here. 
Yes, there was television there - and yes the children were going to local schools there so they would have understood any suitable programs. Books were not quite so readily available so they were using digital versions. They were reading.
What the children were not doing, and still aren't doing, is looking at a computer screen and playing computer games. Their mother said "there's a strict 20 minute limit each day". That is probably long enough to do their homework. It's how the children get time to do their craft work and to read.
It showed too. After sticking to their work for half of the two hour session both girls went off to the children's section of the library. They went without any sort of  fuss or demand that their parent accompany them. I don't know what they were doing down there but I assume they were looking at books. 
The older one came back with a craft book and two cookery books intended for children about her age. There was a casual conversation between her and her mother about something she thought she would like to try and cook.  Her mother didn't suggest it would be "too difficult" or "maybe" or "if there is time" or "no, you might waste the ingredients". Her child's request was considered and agreed upon. I sensed that she was teaching them to cook as well.
Her husband had gone off to do something with their son - another low cost, non-screen based activity. I sensed that was deliberate father-son time too.
I wonder how long they will be able to keep these activities up in this country. How long will it be before the children realise that so many other children do things differently? How long before they realise that so many parents cannot or do not find the time to do things with them? How long before they realise that other children are spending far more time in front of a screen?
But yesterday the two girls could go to the other end of the library on their own. They were independent but completely safe. They could explore books. They could make decisions. They could dream of making this or that. Even more important it seems they have parents who are encouraging that sort of behaviour. 
I hope they come again - and again.

1 comment:

Momkatz said...

We were one of the very last families on our street to get a t.v. Our viewing time was strictly regulated by my mother. No tv on school nights, no tv on weekends, especially no cartoons. There were two exceptions: Friday nights my brother and I could have our weekly (as in once a week) soda and watch "Rin-Tin-Tin"; second exception was no soda but an hour of "Walt Disney's Wonderful World" on Sunday nights.
My Dad took us to the library every weekend, we staggered home with giant piles of books which we read ferociously. My brother and I both had bikes and we rode them all over our neighbor and further as we grew. We played games with each other and the rest of the kids on our street: jacks, jump-rope, hopscotch, dodge ball, hide and seek. My parents had a badminton net in our yard and a croquet set in our shed available to anyone. Kids and adults played together, some times games went on till dark. I was taught how to hand sew in Brownies (my first project I sewed to the skirt of my uniform)and how to knit. My brother worked with Dad doing yard work and heavy house work. We all worked in our huge vegetable garden according to our abilities. We were way too busy to feel the lack of tv time and I have no doubt this was one of the most important gifts that my parents gave us.