Is It Popcorn Day?

Posted October 17, 2018

by Amanda Janquart

Fridays at All Seasons have an energy all their own. The smell of fresh popcorn at in the morning is ubiquitous. The Spring and Autumn Rooms take turns making it, which always draws a crowd of excited children. They count down waiting for the first pop, help melt the butter or add salt, and simply enjoy watching the steam rise. Making five large bowls could easily become a chore, but somehow it never does.
At 11:00, teachers call out, “Walleyes and Eagles, it’s time for movies and popcorn with the Grandmas and Grandpas!” Children from both preschool rooms gather and head upstairs to visit Memory Cove West (Walleyes) or Memory Cove East (Eagles).
Anticipation builds before we open the Cove doors, as children are asked to think of what they might say to the seniors. They are challenged to not forget anyone, shake each grandparent’s hand, make eye contact, and verbally greet everyone. As names are learned, there isn’t much sweeter than listening to children call out, “Good Morning, Grandma Ruth!” or “I like your sweater, Grandpa Bob.” The smiles they receive in return can be breath-taking.

Next up is popcorn distribution, with the children hand delivering a cupful to each senior. When Grandma Mary declines, they know to move on to Grandpa Greg. After double-checking to see if all the seniors have what they need, then, and only then is it time for the children to receive theirs.
After gathering at the feet of Grandmas and Grandpas or getting the “lucky” spots on the couch between doting seniors, the movie begins. Finding movies that appeal to both generations is an ongoing pursuit. We look for the ones which evoke long-ago memories for the seniors; watching with their own children or grandchildren. And the ones that are still appealing and appropriate for today’s children. Many movies have failed or were rejected for a variety of reasons. Old animated cartoons include jokes rooted in racism or sexism. Classic movies like Swiss Family Robinson demean females’ potential, and many have scenes too frightening for children such as the ‘child snatcher’ in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Some are simply too slow-moving or over the heads of preschoolers (vintage Lassie or Singing in the Rain). We have skipped scary sections, explained gender equity over the TV volume, translated British accents, and fast-forwarded to the musical numbers when yawns were apparent.
Thankfully, there have been successful finds. Mary Poppins is returned to year after year and has the added benefit of songs to connect the generations. The music becomes a part of community sing-a-longs and the catchy lyrics are requested time and again when we sing with the Grandmas and Grandpas. Milo and Otis, Winnie the Pooh, and episodes of Mister Rogers have also been well received. While the challenge of finding good fits can take up multiple staff meetings, we continue to search because those twenty minutes a week of comfy, cozy, casual time, without an agenda are what we are after – being at home with each other.

Grandma Faye

Posted October 4, 2018

by Sarah Kern

In September, we lost our Grandma Faye. I say “our” because she was as much a part of this school as any of the teachers or any of the children. Perhaps she was more so “ours” because we loved her — and she us — for many years. We built Grandma Faye into our curriculum, from her weekly visit to read to the children to our spontaneous visits to her apartment — a favorite place to visit with her old doll carriage, polar bear figurines, and view of the playground. “Can you see us play, Grandma Faye?” “Oh yes, I love to watch you.”

I first met Grandma Faye in the pines. I was being trained in for my new teaching position in the Autumn Room on a beautiful fall day. Grandma Faye was out for a walk. She immediately filled me with a feeling of warmth that only a Grandma can. She had a simplicity and a sincerity about her.

Faye loved the children. She adored them. She brought small gifts around holidays. She shared her handmade puppet who had on one side a smile and on the other a frown and brought favorite books. She asked questions and remembered favorite students. Faye invited struggling children onto the couch to sit next to her as she read. She loved to  make the children laugh. She loved to hug them. She loved to be with them.

Faye loved us teachers, too. She remembered details about my life I’d forgotten I’d shared, asked after my husband, and delighted in my pregnancy. I will always cherish the memory of her holding my baby girl when we came to visit. She sent me two cards after my baby was born. I know each of us teachers has treasured memories of Faye.

It became clear early this fall that we may not have much time left with Faye. Her wish was to see the children as much as possible. We brought them to her every chance we could in her last days. They sang with her, hugged her, held her hands, asked her questions. Though Faye was declining, she was ever herself. She lit up when she saw the children. I will never forget the tenderness they showed her, somehow grasping what teachers failed to explain– don’t step on the tube that goes into her nose, be quiet, be gentle, sing clearly. One morning, a group gathered flowers for her and brought them to her. As she held them, they shared a book with her. Though Faye could no longer read to us, we could read to her. Faye died the next morning.

There is a melancholy to loving anyone. We know they are not ours to keep or change, only ours to hold close to us for a time. For some, we are blessed with a long time. For others, it’s much shorter. When we grow to love the seniors, we know in our hearts we will have a short time. We know Inver Glen will likely be their final earthly home. Sometimes it is with fear and a bit of sadness that we begin to care for these people — We don’t know how long we will have. But it is impossible not to know and love them. With Grandma Faye, we were blessed with many years and many happy memories. We are grateful.


Grandma Faye’s obituary