My sister phoned me several weeks ago and at one point in our conversation shared: “I was talking with Grayce the other day, and she almost broke my heart when she said, ‘Grammy, I miss the zoo so much; I worry about the animals!’ Then Grayce cried.”
Grayce (5) and her little brother, Dax, (almost 2) live in Pittsburgh. My niece and nephew-in-law frequented the zoo with them, until…. COVID closed the zoo to visitors. COVID closed the schools. And COVID imposed travel restrictions of those outside of Pennsylvania. Truly, COVID has reeked havoc on the emotional and social well-being of children–far too young to understand why their grandparents don’t visit, why their parents work from home, why they can’t go to the public pool or playground, nor the zoo.
One night I entertained myself by looking at children’s toys on Amazon. Wow, interactive this, mini kindles, owls that can be taught to fly. Complex building systems, science kits, and robots. Not a yoyo, color book, nor a non-remote kite. Then I searched zoo and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a plastic bag filled with larger zoo animals and a play mat on which to construct a zoo. Simple, creative, and imaginative. No glitz, no whistles and bells–just lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!
On a rainy Pittsburgh day, Grayce and Dax opened my box and entertained themselves for several hours. My phone rang; my sister. “Sue, I can’t begin to tell you how much fun the kids have had today with the zoo. Grayce is rather annoyed Dax says the moose is a deer, but they’ve had a blast today. They even face-timed us to show us their menagerie.”
Hmm. No batteries, no flashing lights, no sound. Simple imaginative play. Perhaps, all of us might benefit from a new box of crayons and coloring book, a jig saw puzzle, a deck of cards, or a paper airplane. Perhaps a hardback book, a basketball, or a box of chalk.
Sorry, I’ve got to go. Alexa is ordering my Roomba around, my phone is tweeting, and I’ve got to track my likes on Facebook. Later.