The very day I posted about apples and noses, another man gave me a booklet, ‘Our Daily Bread’. I’ve chosen to share my spontaneous impressions. My intentions are peaceful, hence the quote from Luke, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke, 18:16, New American Standard Bible).
I thought how kids might read booklets like these. Let us imagine Jemma and John, both in their language acquisition age, which means they are still learning the first tongue and building their pictures of the world. Jemma and John are sitting in the lounge.
“How does Dolores know what that other guy feels?”
“She’s like sensing”, John points to the text.
Booklet excerpt: As Dolores was driving along a country road she noticed that a car was following her rather closely. She could almost feel the irritation of the driver as she drove cautiously and slowly navigated several turns. (…) Sensing the other driver’s frustration Dolores thought, “If he just realized the fragile load I’m carrying, he would understand why I’m driving like I am”. Just as quickly another thought occurred to her: “How often am I impatient with people when I have no idea of the fragile load they might be carrying?”
“Ain’t no breather”, says Jemma.
“Here, As Dolores was driving along a country road — there’s no comma.”
“Jem, how does she … feel that other?”
Kids don’t like their questions unanswered.
Jemma is still thinking about her school essay competition. She’s very ambitious about writing. Outside school, she picks anything colloquial zealously. Winning the competition could be her “candy’.
“That’s my load for today afternoon. All my breathers in place or I get no candy. K, no idea how she senses there is anyone angry behind … Yeah, uncle Ben driving. You tell him to take over. He’d feel odd without a bum ahead — his words. Living in a big city.”
Kids constructing their grammars might not readily tell taking over from overtaking. Just as all humans in their endeavors, kids need time to make their progress.
“You’ll win, you’ll see. You’re great with your essays.”
Kids naturally offer empathy.
“Ain’t no way to ‘feel’ a breather. You gotta THINK where to put it.”
“Uugh, tell me here, brainiac. Why if they were, not if they had been?”
Booklet excerpt: When my wife and I were visiting a church for a special musical programme, we arrived early to get a good seat. Before the programme began we overheard two members seated behind us complaining about their church. They criticised the pastoral staff, leadership, music, ministry priorities and several other things that made them unhappy. They were either unconcerned about or oblivious to the presence of two visitors in their midst. It occurred to me that their unfortunate conversation could have pushed us away if we were there looking for a new church home.
“That ain’t American.”
“Or, it’s another American, like just for church?”
“Nope, uncle Ben again, you jaw regular, talk straight, God ain’t no dude, he says. See, ‘programme’, ‘criticise‘. That’s no American. And… it’s like these guys don’t like complaining. And… I don’t know if they like kids.”
Booklet excerpt: When my friend Marci’s father in law passed away, she stopped making his favourite dessert: fruit salad. One day her little boy asked why she no longer served it. She replied, “It reminds me of Granddad, and it makes me sad; Granddad really liked that dessert”. Her son replied in a cheerful tone, “Not better than heaven!”
“Just forget it”, Jem is dismayed.
Kids naturally think what they’d be like in similar circumstances. They might feel commented on with stories about other children.
‘Oogh, just forget it. Jem, granpa happy gone?’
Both grandfathers are alive and much cherished for their attentiveness for the kids. Children happen to speak in ‘shortcuts’. Wanting to ask, “Would it be a happy event if one of the granpas died”, a kid might ask “Granpa happy gone?”
No, Jemma would not be happy. Her voice would not be cheerful.
Booklet excerpt: My fried Melissa’s 9 year old daughter Sydnie was in the hospital for chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant when I had a dream about her. I dreamed she was staying in a central room at the hospital with her parents. Surrounding her room was a block of other rooms where family and friends were staying and continually praying for her during her times of treatment. In real life, Sydnie wasn’t physically surrounded by family and friends in adjacent rooms. Yet spiritually speaking, she was and is surrounded by prayer and love.
“What happens to the girl, John?”
Kids naturally give strong priority to real people’s stories, especially other kids’ stories. The stories in the booklet are presented as true.
“Don’t know. Not saying.”
Jemma grabs the booklet.
“Not a word …”
Children are sensitive about opinions on their quotients.
“Eyy, does this mean we’re stupid?”
Booklet excerpt: Dr. Deb Roy, a researcher and cognitive scientist at a University, recorded the first 3 years of his child’s life to learn how humans acquire language. Proverbs 18 offers insight about unwise speech patterns.
Jemma is the older and more skilled of the kids, therefore she takes the role to pass on authority.
“Mom and Dad say you’re not stupid when you learn. You just don’t know yet. Them guys to say you ain’t got it all, they don’t speak Latin or French or all languages — ain’t they funny?”
“And … do they really like their neighbors?”
Adults are obviously not absent from kids’ picture of the world.
Booklet excerpt: In June 2011, when disastrous floodwaters chased residents of Minot, North Dakota, America, from their homes, the people of that community did what seemed to come naturally to them – they helped others who were in need. (…) Even though we may not have the opportunity to respond in a dramatic way to a natural disaster, we can all look for ways to love those around us. To be good neighbours, we can show others mercy.
“MMM, mercy – hate that word. John – you want to be showed mercy?”
I never overheard any children. The characters are fictional, yet probable. My intentions are peaceful.
‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives Me’ – Matthew 18:15, New American Standard Bible.
I enclose the booklet cover.
Feel welcome to visit my grammar grapevine