Enjoying Quiet Time


WHAT to do when you need your grandchildren to be quiet or play quietly? Best to have some ideas of projects or activities that fit the bill.

Last summer I taught Jain and Sofia some very basic embroidery and hope to continue with that this year. Long ago my great-grandma taught me when I was their age, and I keenly felt her presence as the girls and I sat together on the couch repeating history. It was a sweet, tender moment and we were all proud of their first stitches!

My summer binder includes a Quiet Time section that includes the typical activities: playing computer games, reading books, working jigsaw puzzles, watching movies. Beyond that we do encourage them to try new things. I have a book titled Beautiful Art and made note of my favorite pieces. I asked both girls to do the same without letting each other know what they'd selected. The goal was to discuss which pieces of art we had each chosen and what we liked about them. This, for me, was a discovery of commonality vs. difference. Do we have the same taste in art? Why or why not? Which pieces did they choose that I didn't and what did they like about those? Unfortunately, we ran out of time to complete this activity last summer, and my curiosity demands we must return to it.

Researching art on the Internet is also a wonderful way to introduce them to artists other than ones they are learning about in school. Consider the sidewalk 3D chalk artist whose work looks so real you think you actually could fall into that crater he just drew! Pull up the works of Julian Beever, Kurt Wenner or Ellis Gallagher and you'll see what I'm talking about. Amazing!

Or have them check out the seemingly impossible works of Escher or the modern surrealism paintings of Rob Gonsalves. Escher's work is most likely covered in their school's art classes, but chances are they've never heard of Gonsalves. The beautiful way Gonsalves morphs images into one another is truly incredible!

Interest in anyone's art should be encouraged. Take your grandchildren to museums and art shows, introduce them to the many and varied forms of arts and crafts. Hang their artwork on your refrigerator until you can't see the door! Frame their creations, add them to a special scrapbook, display them on a shelf. Let them know you honor and cherish their artistic endeavors.

Our granddaughters' elementary school art classes have students not only study certain artists but attempt to reproduce their art, too. I wanted them to try the pointillist method of painting, so we bought some canvases and the girls each selected a photo to reproduce. Sofia chose a Christmas tree drawing and did a fine job dotting her painting with an unused pencil eraser. Jain has been sketching fashion designs for several years and demonstrated an impressive talent reproducing a painting of a rose totally freehand! She was quite meticulous and methodical in her process. First she drew her rose on paper, then realized she had to repeat it on the canvas and worried she wouldn't draw it as well as she had on the paper. Once she had the rose drawn on the canvas, she painstakingly dotted it with the ends of different size dowels and toothpicks. The result was WOW! I never knew Jain's ability to draw was so spot-on accurate.

Even I got in on the action. By no stretch of the imagination am I a painter (well, maybe on rocks), but I've always thought pointillism surely must be one of the easiest methods of painting. Allow me to disabuse you of that notion. It. Is. Not. Yet, I had a painting in mind I wanted to try and decided to give it a go. The original image is of three female figures that appear to be floating upright in midair. I managed to get one figure painted and decided that was enough. It actually looks OK and I would be willing to try this method again — after I take some professional lessons. At the very least we had fun trying our hand at this method, and all our work is proudly displayed in my daughter's house.

There are many, many quiet time activities you can offer your grandchildren. As I mentioned in last week's blog post, creative writing is a wonderful way for them to consult on a topic, flesh out the details and type up the story. Who knows? It might become a book one day!

Putting on headphones and listening to music is another excellent way to practice quiet and creative solitude. Jain shares a love of classical music with me and plays the viola. I found a series of vintage videos on YouTube titled Young Peoples Series with Leonard Bernstein I know she is going to love!

Engage another part of their brains by handing them a sketchpad and having them draw to the music. Give them music to which they can choreograph a dance, then ask them to share their dance moves with everyone. Buy hand puppets and have them create and put on a puppet show. Let them play educational games on the computer. Encourage reading with a summer reading list (they probably were given one at the end of the school year they need to work on anyway).

Meditation and prayer at any time of the day or evening are undeniably among the most wonderful ways to practice quiet time. Going within, quieting the mind, connecting with a higher power — all are excellent exercises for uniting body, mind and soul. Experiencing meditation and prayer with your grandchildren is one of the best things you will ever do together. Please don't miss out on any and all opportunities to do so.

Whatever quiet activity you and your grandchildren choose, it's best if it can be accomplished on their part with very little supervision, ideally with none. They will learn to fend for themselves and respect their elders' need for quiet at the same time. Ask them to come to you quietly for help if they need it. Likewise, if you need to interrupt your grandchildren during their quiet time, be equally respectful of them.

And, above all, as Grampy says,