Monday, October 19, 2009


Autumn, that time of year the leaves all change from different shades of green to warm yellows and golds and brilliant reds and oranges!  Eventually the trees lie barren for the winter months, and the leaves toss each other across the road and crunch beneath our feet.  The air becomes much cooler and crisper, a refreshing difference from the summer sweats.  Apples are fully ripe now, and are freshly picked, eaten, sold, canned or pied.  Orange pumpkins dot the fields in all sizes, just waiting to be chosen for a child's jack-o-lantern. Air conditioners are turned off, windows are opened during the day, and eventually it is time to turn on the heat.  Change is in the air!

Change -- I started thinking about it.  Winston Churchill once said "The only constant is change".  How true that is...... we experience change more than we do anything else.  The weather changes from season to season, and if you travel you may experience change in climate in just one day.  Civilization changes no matter where you live as advances are made in the way things are accomplished.  People change from children into adults; and, as healthy adults they continue to learn and grow in wisdom and knowledge. Dress, decor and tastes change.  Some changes are subtle, some are 'revolutionary'.  No matter how you slice it up, though, change is inevitable.

So, what does this have to do with making a difference for our children?  Everything!  Especially for children born in this era, change is happening faster than ever!  Technology is advancing so fast it seems even the most brilliant of scientists can barely keep up with it.  What the children learn in school this year, could very well be ancient history by the time they graduate college.  Teachers, books, lessons...... they can all teach our children information, and in the best case scenario they will have at least a few teachers who have a passion for their profession and instill a love of learning in them.  A child who 'learns how to learn', and is able to apply their imagination to the facts, will take us places in our future that have yet to be dreamed.  And the same child who is also adaptable to change will surpass them all!

Who do you know that has the most experience with change?  Those of us who have been around awhile, of course.  It's one of those facts of life, isn't it?  The longer you live, the more likely you will have been through at least a few changes.  My grandmother was born when most people still used horses and buggies as a means for travel, and indoor plumbing and telephones were luxuries.  If she wanted information, she had to go to the public library, or be sure to buy the latest edition of her encyclopedia set.  Now telephones are not only common in the home, but are carried around by adults and teens alike wherever they go.  And instead of checking books out from the local library, each day more and more people are joining the online crowd of information seekers.

It isn't an easy task, to help a child to develop an ability to adapt to change, but I believe it is an extremely important one.  Children do need a sense of security as well, which is what makes this task such a challenge.  This can be accomplished by providing for their basic internal needs such as love, encouragement, acceptance and recognition on a regular basis.  With an atmosphere rich in these qualities children will feel secure within themselves, making external changes less dramatic.  With loving and supportive surroundings they will be much more apt to explore their world, and will not view changes around them as threatening.  Changes can become an exiting part of their lives, and can ignite their curiousity and imagination rather than instilling fear.

As grandparents we can not only help to provide such an atmosphere, but we can share our own personal stories of experiencing change.  Children love to hear stories and doing so creates a shared journey as they join you in their thoughts.  They are simply amazed that there was a time when TV was only in black and white, home phones were not portable, and no one even knew what a computer was.  They can hardly believe cartoons were only seen on Saturday mornings, and girls wore only skirts and dresses to school no matter how cold the weather might have been.  But, they enjoy hearing about the personal growth changes we've experienced, too.  It is encouraging to them when they hear stories about events such as having to move and make all new friends. Or, about going back to college ten years after graduating from High School. Or, even better, to watch us develop a new skill or talent. 

Recently I had my piano tuned, and I started playing it again after it sat dormant for almost fifteen years!  This change sprouted a bit of interest in some of the children, who had seen my piano nicely decorating the recreation room but had never seen it played.  Which demonstrates another aspect of change - it has a sort of domino effect.  Of course, not all of them have stuck with it, but they experienced a shot at something they might not have otherwise tried.  And, for those that do continue to play the piano, perhaps they will pick up another instrument or two in the future -- and, who knows how many others will be affected by this change in their lives!

When children grow up being adaptable to change, they are more willing to try new things, even if they aren't completely sure about them.  Whether it's playing an instrument or trying new foods, this skill obviously creates more options in life than being afraid of change.  They also become more fully aware of their own interests and abilities as they become involved in different activities, and eventually discover where their greatest strengths and passions lie.  And instead of having a negative attitude when they find something they don't really enjoy, or aren't able to do as well, they chalk it up as a learning experience and move on to find more of what they do enjoy and can excel at it.

Yes, change is in the air - today, tomorrow, always........... lets help our children to embrace change as a postiive part of life and give them a winning edge in doing so!

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