Dragon Posts

November 2017

From the Dragons’ Den

Sometimes, quite unexpectedly, there is a moment of magic during story time at Little Dragons. Such a time occurred recently during the story of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ as the tiny caterpillar having eaten, and eaten, and eaten apples, pears, plums, strawberries, oranges, chocolate cake, ice cream, a pickle, Swiss cheese, salami, a lollipop, cherry pie, a sausage, a cupcake and a slice of water melon had turned, not surprisingly, into a huge, plump creature. When the big, bright caterpillar appeared out of the story bag, there was a surprised hush and one of those amazing, magic moments that is much to be treasured by the story teller.

That specific magic moment reminds me of the first song that our elder son sang snatches of around 1959 or 1960 – Magic Moments by Perry Como. Perhaps you remember it. ‘Magic Moments, Memories we’ve been sharing’. That was in the days when an innocent song was just that with no hidden meanings or undertones.

 

It is good to reflect on the magic moments in one’s life. It is good to take a few minutes (given chance) to think back and let random thoughts drift through the mind, allowing some of those moments of magic whisper at the edges of the memory bank.

It would be good to have a box in the West End Room where people could place, possibly anonymously, a record of such a magic moment in their own memory, to share with others. What a range of experience that would cover I am certain. Those magic memories could be collated into a small book containing happy, magic moments which, I am certain, would entertain all who cared to read it.

Hmmm. Get those thinking caps on – and, watch this space!

Every good wish, Val Butterworth

 

 

 

 

October 2017

From the Dragons’ Den

There is something special about a teddy bear.

It is often the first gift that arrives from new grandparents to a first grandchild and often remains very special to the child for many years to come.  Our own son, now aged 58, still owns his very first teddy bear, originally white although now a ‘whiter shade of pale’.  He (the teddy bear) only possesses one eye now but, regardless of that slight infirmity, still remains precious.  Another teddy bear that resides with us was a gift from a fond Great-aunt to our second son, now aged 56.  This teddy is of a rubbery substance and, equally loved many years ago, now resides in an old linen basket which contains lots of Little Dragon props and toys which take their turn in being the special characters in Little Dragon stories.  This teddy isn’t used very often, but one is always aware of his presence due to the fact that, when one scrabbles around in the linen basket to retrieve a mouse, a spider, a cat, or any other character as required, this rubbery teddy emits a loud squeak.  When our younger son, turned over or even moved slightly in his cot even as a very small baby, we were made aware of this as the teddy squeaked loudly – better than any expensive baby alarm.

Recently, we held a Teddy Bears’ Picnic at Little Dragons.  Along came teddy bears of all shapes and sizes to join those that inhabit the Children’s Corner.  We enjoyed tiny sandwiches, teddy crisps and decorated special teddy picnic buns.  It’s always nice to share a picnic with friends and our Little Dragons picnic was no exception.

As I observe people around me I have come to the conclusion that, as we grow older, we may come in a small way to resemble teddy bears.  As we perhaps lose the slimmer contours and become a little more rounded and we muffle up in clothes perhaps more suited to warmth and comfort rather than fashion, it could be said that we take on an aspect of a cuddly teddy bear.  I just hope that we are loved as much!

If in doubt, all the more reason to do our best to love each other!

Every good wish, Val Butterworth

September 2017

From the Dragons’ Den

I wonder who remembers the poem, Pippa Passes, by Robert Browning.  When I was a child I loved this verse, especially the last two lines: –

“God’s in His Heaven, All’s right with the world.”

From a very young age I felt in my heart that this was true.  My Dad was away somewhere, involved in something called ‘The War!’; we didn’t have much money and food was scarce – where were all those things called biscuits that I loved which appeared to have disappeared, to be non-existent? Yet, in that time of uncertainty and some fear, I was sure that as long as God was in His Heaven, then we would be OK.

Currently, as we look around our world, reading and watching the news of happenings that we find hard to understand, we are blessed here in our part of the world by the people around us who care.

It is interesting to watch our Little Dragons each week.  They are too young to worry about whether someone has more, or less, than they have.  They don’t mind whether they sit on the green cushion or the red cushion.  They may, as their age increases by weeks, or months, decide that a purple bowl has much more to offer than a yellow or a blue bowl, but usually they don’t notice that the next LD may have received 5 raisins compared to his/her four, or that he/she has one more piece of banana in their bowl.  Naturally, as they mature a little, they may, as we have mentioned in other journal entries, develop an awareness concerning the colour or size of the blue bike compared with the green and yellow bike, or between the fire engine with a ladder versus the one without, but that is a normal occurrence.

For the majority of our Little Dragons, ‘All’s right with the world!’ for much of the time.  For some, at times, it is less so and we, as Senior Dragons, do our best to offer support and love as required.  In addition, there are times when a quiet word, a big hug and the suggestion of a cup of coffee can turn the day around for a Carer who is finding life a bit tough.  The same goes for Senior Dragons who also need the smile, the hug and maybe several cups of coffee when the world doesn’t feel alright.

There isn’t always a lot that we can do in the wider world.  We can support through giving to charity and by volunteering help where and when applicable but, at times, we feel very helpless on hearing of the plight of others.

However, we can do a huge amount here in our own community.

As Little Dragons Play, Learn and Grow together, so can we, and we can play our part in showing that ‘God is in His Heaven. All’s right with the world’, here in Pontesbury as we share our love, energy and prayers with those in need.

Every good wish, Val Butterworth

August 2017

 

  From the Dragons’ Den

Summer holiday break.  A time to rest and rejuvenate the system, do all the jobs that one has put off – and put off – and put off. A time to tidy up, clean and renew Little Dragon items that have become dishevelled and worn out during the past year. 

It is the time when some Little Dragons leave us to commence formal schooling and we hope that the things learned with us, such as sitting down quietly at story time, joining in with singing, creating interesting articles and pictures in ‘art’ form, learning to share, will all come to their aid in the bigger world of school.

It is the time when we Big Dragons sit back and declare amazement that after eleven years we are still continuing to come each week to share with these little people, delight in their delight and support their Carers as and when we can.

When we began our Little Dragon venture I think we anticipated it lasting just for a year or two and we aimed to simply be a support body for those who might need a space for their toddlers whilst giving them, the Carers, chance to take breath.  It has turned out to be that, and more.  We have listened, laughed, cried, comforted and generally supported ‘all sorts and conditions of men’ – well, mainly women actually.

Our aim, initially, was to be a body of Outreach, and we know that several who have reached out to us have been helped by our simple support. We have opened our hands, arms and hearts to those who have reached out to us – sometimes for simple help, at other times for huge support, care and kindness. 

If we have helped anyone in any way; if we have provided support or sustenance to someone in real need, then we have done what we set out to do.  The hope that this may be so gives us heart to carry on when our own lives are tough and we, ourselves, have seemingly unsolvable problems. 

 

We sometimes need to remind ourselves that we are never alone.  We are each in the hands of One who is greater that we could ever hope to be.  We, though, can continue to do our best to support those in need and to notice and care for each other when we can, hands and hearts at the ready to support those whose need is much greater than our own.

We need to be there!  – for each other!  – and we will never be alone!

Every good wish, Val Butterworth

July 2017

 

  From the Dragons’ Den

So, what is it about play dough?  What is it about play dough that is so fascinating, not only to Little Dragons, but to adults also?  It is interesting to observe at Little Dragons that alongside the children manipulating, rolling, shaping the pliable mass, there is usually an adult carer (or even Senior Dragon) experiencing the mysterious joy of the said medium. 

I suppose that many of you have ‘fond’ memories of the old-fashioned plasticine of younger days.  I can conjure up the vision of the muted colours; basic blue, red, yellow green, brown and not much else.  I can recall the peculiar odour and the rubbery feel as I was allowed, aged 4, to roll out on a little wooden board, with a little wooden rolling pin, the easy-to-manipulate substance. Easy to manipulate, that is, until it suddenly lost its stretch and elasticity, and began to flake off in lumps before being abandoned in the wicker waste paper basket in the corner of the classroom.    

Today’s play dough, in a variety of bright shades, is much more pleasing both in texture and odour.  Easy to manipulate, easy to model into something wild and wonderful; apparently quite tasty to eat if our current Little Dragon users are to be believed. 

Psychologists would no doubt explain to us, if asked, that the act of submitting the play dough (or plasticine) to our will, by moulding, rolling, bashing, or even eating, can assist us in ridding the mind and body of the frustration met when obstacles or other people mar our comfortable journey through each day.  When happenings in our lives seem to be more than we can bear; when people or things cannot or will not bend to our will and we seem to meet opposition no matter into which direction we turn, then a few minutes suppressing and managing a handful of pliable material may relax us and enable us to manage the moment(s) with ease. 

Recently, someone gave me a recipe for home-made play dough – easy to make, cheap and so much longer lasting than that purchased for LDs.  Having lots of colourings amongst my cookery items I decided, in my wisdom, to add a gorgeous purple to the mix.  Good idea – however – greyish purple result!  Doesn’t look as vivid as I had imagined but a huge success as far as many, many pairs of hands (large and small) are finding.

So, if anyone is in need of a relaxing, healing means of recovering or retaining equilibrium – we are your people!  For a small favour (such as becoming a Senior Dragon) we are willing to share this wonderful means of helping each day to be a special time.

 

Every good wish, Val Butterworth

                                                                                                     

 

 

June 2017

               From the Dragons’ Den

George writing:  Val is at home cleaning her windows. She says that it’s either that or she will have to have new glass fitted.

Idris warned us recently that there was to be a ‘Grand De-cluttering’ and he thought that it might be a good idea if we stayed well hidden within the confines of our basket so that we wouldn’t become de-cluttered along with anything that didn’t seem to have a proper place.  So, we could only watch through the wicker of our basket as this grand occasion took place.

Val de-cluttered our cupboard a day early as she was sorting out what she needs to order in the way or art/craft items or other intricacies that are, apparently, essential to the continuance of Little Dragons.  If you could have heard her knees creaking as she delved into the rear areas of the cupboard, it would have made your hearts bleed.  We know that she has a bit of a ‘thing’ about everything in the cupboard being in its right place, so, as she has been heard to declare, she can open the cupboard even in the dark and find exactly what she wants, knowing that it will be in its right place.  Although, she has also been heard to say that it is very unlikely that such an occasion will ever arise, but we think we know what she means. 

Anyway, on the day of the G D-C, several people turned up to help and they had a great time sorting things out and tidying things away and making everything tidy.  I heard someone say that people who visit our church often remark on how well-cared for it is and how nicely things are set out.  So, it is worth all the effort to keep it looking nice and keeping everything in places where they can be reached by those who need them.

Uncle Sam, Idris and I now feel that we can safely venture forth and we know that, in an emergency, we can easily dive back under cover as, unless there is evidence of sabotage, we, like Val, should be able to leap into the cupboard even in the dark, as we are confident that everything will be in its proper place.  Such exciting times we live in!

Oops.  Need to sign off now as Idris is calling a meeting.  He is, no doubt, up to something!

Best wishes, George, Uncle Sam and Idris

May 2017

From the Dragons’ Den

Now, who would have expected me to be quoting from a Shakespeare Sonnet (No 18 to be precise) in a Little Dragon’s Journal entry? Certainly, not me!

 

The sonnet is the one that begins – ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ and goes on to speak ofthe darling buds of May’ , which are shaken by rough winds.

For some unknown reason, this phrase sprang into my head when I was watching several Little Dragons enjoying their time with us during a recent Tuesday morning session.

Those who know these things say, (and I quote) – ‘the phrase refers to the opening buds that point toward the warm summer season ahead and to the freshness and exuberance of youth as it turns towards adult maturity.’

 Wow, and I thought that these small children and babies were simply enjoying the moment as they skipped, hopped, rode the bicycles and the famous red car, crawled hither and thither, or simply sat happily smiling in the Children’s Corner!

And yet, and yet!  Yes, indeed, they are reaching forward to growing and developing into the adults they will eventually become.

If only we could see ourselves as we were when we were very young.  Many who are reading this article will have been babies well before the time of video cameras and smart phones.  We may have photographs (some of them possibly in shades of sepia) that give an idea of how we may have appeared to the rest of our small world, but a view of ourselves as living, moving, talking beings may have to be left entirely to the imagination.

I know that other Dragon helpers feel as I do in that we enjoy a tremendous privilege as we view the growth and development of our Little Dragon friends, as we may perhaps, indeed, see them as opening buds that point toward the warm summer season ahead.  It is my dearest wish that they, and all the other youngsters in our world, will grow to live in a safe and caring world; a world without strife, envy and inhumanity.  If we are prayerful, maybe we can pray for their future world and hope for a world where peace exists, where food and water is plentiful, where health issues are dealt with; a world where people of different races and cultures live together with love and respect for their fellow humans.

I know it can happen!                   Val Butterworth

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 2017

From the Dragons’ Den

This is the day – this is the day – this is the day when it doesn’t rain, the wind doesn’t blow, the sun peeps through the clouds and, at Little Dragons, one of our little people takes their first steps down through the West End Room, or down the centre aisle as they make a determined effort to reach the red car before anyone else manages it.

Those first steps are so significant in our lives, be they the first steps we take as a baby, as we start school, further education, first job, and all the other important happenings in our lives.  New beginnings, new fears, new triumphs, new wonders and all the other new things that make up our daily lives over the years.

As our Little Dragon rolls and reels through the dance of the first steps, so we seem to roll and reel through the happenings of our lives.  From our perspective, descending from the standing position down to the hands and knees perhaps doesn’t appear to be very far for our toddler, although for him/her it is a big drop. For us, as we grow older, the times when we feel that we might be falling from the heights of success and achievement down to the disappointment of perceived failure or hardship, can be devastating.

However, for all of us, each day is a new beginning, be we a Little Dragon, a growing child, an adult or – possibly a time of greatest trepidation – old(er) age.  The older we get, the more experience we have, which should enable us to keep perspective within sensible bounds.  This doesn’t always happen as, at any age, we may feel that we have little control over what is happening in our lives.

As has been stated before in earlier epistles, we have to remember that we are not alone, although there are times when we may feel that this is the case.  There is always someone, human or divine, who will listen to us, will help to raise us up when we are failing, or falling – just as each one of us will help the toddler regain balance.  If we give others a chance they will be more than ready to support us in any way they can.

Val Butterworth