As Calder and I were standing together in the backyard, we heard a voice yelling from the sand box. We looked over to see Carolina M. peeking around the climbing wall, gesturing us over to the place where she was standing.
“Hey! Come look at this cool thing I made.”
Calder and I walked over to the sandbox where Carolina excitedly pointed to a spot on the ground. I asked, “Is this the cool thing you wanted to show us?”
“Yeah, it’s about a muddy puddle” Carolina replied, giggling at the thought that must have entered her mind when she said the name out loud.
Calder and I looked closer at Carolina’s work, noticing the designs she had created with her shovel in the sand. Calder, admiring the sand art, reached down to feel the texture. As Calder’s hand stroked the side of Carolina’s creation she looked at him and said, “It needs some white sand now.”
Together the two of them gathered and sprinkled sand on the design, taking a step back when they were finished to admire the changes they added together. With a thoughtful look Carolina looked at the creation and then at me and said,
“Now it’s about a story.”
Hearing Carolina’s words I immediately began to think about the story that this new creation was telling. In my mind the story was one of collaboration. It was about the way she had inspired him, the work the two of them had put into it, and the way that Carolina’s vision grew when she invited someone else in. In my eyes, as the admirer of their art, this story was about connection and communication. It was, like much of the art and experiences that happen here, about the story.
Reflecting on this more however, I realized that the reason this was the story I saw, the reason I could look a little deeper and recognize that process, was because I was there. I had the opportunity to see this work in action and to see the collaboration that had taken place first hand. I was able to understand why these marks in the sand were more than just that. But what if I wasn’t there to see Carolina’s excitement or to witness the way Calder looked at her designs? Would this creation be as meaningful to me?
As I wondered more about this, I thought about our parents, and how many of them don’t get a chance to see their child’s work in motion and how much they want to feel their children in the process. Thinking about those families I wondered how we could make that more of a reality. What could we do to help them see that these marks in the sand were actually something special and meaningful. I wondered how we could help families see that the work that children do is always about a story.