Dragon Posts

May 2014

              

  From the Dragons’ Den

 

Trees laden with blossom and new leaves bravely bursting through and the world seems a better place – a drier place following the long, wet, winter days.  As the new leaves brighten the daily view, so the bright little faces of our Little Dragons brighten and colour each of our weekly meetings.

Following the Easter break, as ever, little legs seem longer and those who were tottering along now seem to be leaping; those who were crawling are now cruising up and down, up and down, as they seek new joys in newly discovered activities.  Little fingers are more dexterous as art activities are explored and new creations  evolve.  How lucky we helpers are that we are able to observe child development at such close quarters. 

Looking back it seems that the development of our own children went by in such a flash that we missed many of the stages, possibly because we were involved in the management of bringing more than one child up and balancing that against all that goes with family life.  So it is with great pleasure that we are able to view those developments and learning in others and take time to enjoy them.

One young man this morning suddenly discovered that he could join in the singing of ‘George the Little Dragon’.  Now, his version may not have matched the official one but he sang in time with everyone else and was obviously aiming to be an X Factor winner or a participant in ‘Pontesbury’s Got Talent’.  Whatever, he thoroughly enjoyed his moment of triumph. It is when viewing such a happening that we realise life’s blessings and are left with a smiling face. 

                                                                           Val Butterworth

April 2014

green_dragon_s                   

  From the Dragons’ Den                    

As Lent begins and Easter events come into our minds one may, or may not, be led to give up various things in life that one enjoys.  There are those who feel great virtue in denying themselves something special whilst others prefer to do something special, perhaps for others.   We hear much about temptation and our resistance to this.

Observing children at Little Dragons it is interesting to see how the tiny baby develops into  the crawling baby and further develops into the toddler who may begin to experience temptation. It is one of life’s hard lessons to learn that when something is ‘desired’ it is not always easy to ‘get’.  We all have to learn – and many begin to learn this at an early age – that we cannot always have what we want – especially not by hitting people over the head, or snatching the desired object, or screaming, shouting, kicking or brandishing fists. I wonder how many of us wish that we could do all of these things when we don’t get exactly what we want out of life, or attain desired results.

At today’s session one toddler experienced the frustration of not achieving what he desired.  He didn’t want to stick shiny stars and sequins onto a mask.  He wanted to ‘wash’ the glue stick in a bowl of water formerly placed so that our little artists could wash their sticky, sparkly hands.  His desire was frustrated by his carer who thought that the glue sticks did not require washing.  Result – one huge tantrum – followed by said Little Dragon being taken off home early, hopefully having learned a hard lesson – we do not always get exactly what we want out of life, or attain desired results.

Hopefully in the wider world there are sensible beings able to help to teach those who feel it is their right to have their own way regardless of the effect on others that this is not so. Sadly, when we read or watch the news programmes it seems that this is almost impossible.

However, one hopes that we in our small corner, can do our best to resist the seemingly inbuilt need for ‘self at all costs’ as we strive to serve the best interests of others before our own.  

                Not easy – so – good luck!!                                                   Val Butterworth

March 2014

green_dragon_s11-03March 2014                   

       From the Dragon’s Den       

I used to be good at balancing.  A wall, a kerb, a ledge; and later – balance beams in a gym, benches; headstands, handstands – oh the joy. 

Well, I used to be good at balancing!   So, where did it go?                                                                   

A wonderful sight is that of a young child as he or she manages to ‘find his/her feet’.  We see them at Little Dragons as they shuffle, scramble and stagger towards the endgame of balancing on two feet and, even more spectacularly, moving forwards – or backwards – on those two feet.  There is so much more to see, and get hold of, when one is a little higher than the floor.  Life is so exciting when one can see, aim at and arrive at a desired object. 

 As life goes on we take for granted the skills of walking, running, jumping, leaping, dancing.  We use our skill of balance without giving it a thought.  We hurl ourselves through the days, changing direction and level at speed.  Until ………………………..

……………………….. perhaps the day comes when we are unable to do these things.  Hopefully this is a temporary measure but very frustrating.  When, suddenly, one has to consider how to get from a to b (only a couple or three feet) without falling over and possibly further damaging oneself; or one has to consider how one might ascend or descend the stairs without creating an avalanche of limbs, or plaques from the wall, thus frightening everyone within a thirty foot radius; when the balance that has come so easily for many years has suddenly deserted one.  How much worse if this is to be a permanent state.

 A balanced life is much to be desired. Not just physical balance but, probably of greater importance, a balanced mind.  It is easy to feel the loss of that balance when we are surrounded by the stresses of modern life, when worries leap out at us from the most unexpected places, when life seems to be tough. 

 Pondering on this I had a sudden thought, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”   There is support out there for all who need; be we the toddler aiming at first steps, or someone of greater years who is struggling to get by.  We are not alone.  If we hold out our hand and allow others to grasp it we may find the comfort and support that we need.

Val Butterworth

From the Dragons’ Den

green_dragon_sApril 2014                                         

As Lent begins and Easter events come into our minds one may, or may not, be led to give up various things in life that one enjoys.

 There are those who feel great virtue in denying themselves something special whilst others prefer to do something special, perhaps for others.   We hear much about temptation and our resistance to this.

Observing children at Little Dragons it is interesting to see how the tiny baby develops into  the crawling baby and further develops into the toddler who may begin to experience temptation. It is one of life’s hard lessons to learn that when something is ‘desired’ it is not always easy to ‘get’.  We all have to learn – and many begin to learn this at an early age – that we cannot always have what we want – especially not by hitting people over the head, or snatching the desired object, or screaming, shouting, kicking or brandishing fists. I wonder how many of us wish that we could do all of these things when we don’t get exactly what we want out of life, or attain desired results.

At today’s session one toddler experienced the frustration of not achieving what he desired.  He didn’t want to stick shiny stars and sequins onto a mask.  He wanted to ‘wash’ the glue stick in a bowl of water formerly placed so that our little artists could wash their sticky, sparkly hands.  His desire was frustrated by his carer who thought that the glue sticks did not require washing.  Result – one huge tantrum – followed by said Little Dragon being taken off home early, hopefully having learned a hard lesson – we do not always get exactly what we want out of life, or attain desired results.

Hopefully in the wider world there are sensible beings able to help to teach those who feel it is their right to have their own way regardless of the effect on others that this is not so. Sadly, when we read or watch the news programmes it seems that this is almost impossible.

However, one hopes that we in our small corner, can do our best to resist the seemingly inbuilt need for ‘self at all costs’ as we strive to serve the best interests of others before our own.  

                Not easy – so – good luck!!                                                   Val Butterworth

February 2014

green_dragon_s                      

 

       From the Dragon’s Den       

 

George, the Little Dragon writing: 

As Val is incapacitated or, in words of one syllable, ‘has done her leg in!’ then I have been allowed to write this month’s journal entry.  Uncle Sam is feeling sulky because he wasn’t given the task, but I may allow him to put the odd word in here and there.  Just as long as Idris doesn’t pop his head out of the basket we are OK as he is bound to want to add a few choice words in Welsh so none of us will know what he is actually saying. 

A short while ago, even from the depths of our basket, we were aware that something called the ‘New Year’ happened.  We believe that it erupted in a frenzy of fireworks, shouts of good cheer as families and friends celebrated the hour.

Sam and I (and Idris) wondered whether all the cheering, happy folk considered as they cheered, laughed, sang and enjoyed the moment, all the blessings with which they are endowed – good luck, good fortune, families, friends – even though at times, when things are tough – if they have financial worries, concerns over property repairs and how they might manage them; bodies that don’t seem to be working properly as health problems strike and they feel that coping might be difficult.  Did they spare a thought for the homeless, the jobless, the lonely, those who feel there is no hope for the future?  We know, even from our secluded spot that there are those who don’t even try to help themselves; who take it for granted that everything that they consider to be their right in life will be offered, free of charge and with no obligation. 

Sam interjecting here:

There are also those who, despite all that may be offered, still feel unable to live a life of worth; who feel inadequate (as we all do at times) and who have neither the hope nor the will to face up to each new day.

Back to George:

When things go wrong for such people life can be seen as being very problematic. Others are more pragmatic and can work out a practical solution in a down-to-earth way.  They are lucky as they are usually able to work out a means of managing what could be a seemingly insurmountable problem.  However, even they have to remember that they are not invincible and are so lucky if they have families and friends on whom they can rely.  We all have to remember that although it seems more easy to give than to receive, there are times when to be the recipient can made one feel really blessed.  Perhaps Sam and I should think about that and give Idris more of a chance to take part in our activities.  Hmm – that could be a tricky one.  Watch this space!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                       George and Sam (and a big hug from Idris)

 

January 2014

       From the Dragon’s Den      

green_dragon_s

                 HAPPY NEW YEAR from all at Little Dragons

So, here we are again – a New Year with its new resolutions, new hopes and dreams!

New term at Little Dragons and we are ready to enjoy the moment with George, Sam, Idris (if he is behaving himself), all our little people and their carers.

I wonder how many people actually make – and then keep – the resolutions they make.  I remember an occasion when I vowed, resolved, determined to always be good.  This probably followed a time of altercation with my Mum or big sister; not something that happened often but if it did I was sure to want ever to be good. I found living with disapproval really difficult. (So, does anything change?)

I rarely felt this sense of disapproval from my Dad, probably because we were very alike and could always see, or determine, a sensible outcome following any happening.

Realisation dawned eventually that being good constantly is probably unattainable and, no doubt, unrealistic.  When we think we are living our lives in a good way and trying to please all, there is probably someone who we are unconsciously offending or hurting in some way.

Perhaps then a mantra which I have developed over the years might be a more realistic way of life to aim at.  ‘Be calm, be serene and above all be kind!’  No names mentioned here, but one member of our congregation has been heard to utter, ‘I can do the first two – but the third one isn’t so easy!’

Absolutely true but at least we can try.  If we make no other good resolutions let us try to be kind(er) to one another and more accepting of our differences, whether they be differences of faith or just different ways of simply living.

Happy New Year to all who read this – and may your dreams come true!

                                                                                                         Val Butterworth

December 2013

 

December 2013

 

       From the Dragon’s Den      

 

One of the joys of being very young is the fact that expressions of joy, or otherwise, can be freely displayed as noisily as one may desire or feels to be appropriate to the situation.  Instances of this can be seen when Little Dragons are riding up and down on the various tricycles and other ride-along toys; the ride being accompanied by ‘engine’ noises, hooting and tooting and other expressions of enjoyment.  Likewise during storytime and singing time:-  no sign of embarrassment here as everyone lustily joins in the narration and singing as required – and sometimes as not!

 

We Brits are very good at hiding our emotions behind a stiff, upper lip and apparent composure.  However, it can be good to really let go at times – not in a bad way but in enjoyment and cheer – really uplifting the spirits.

Recently, three Senior Dragons plus one, spent time in Funchal, Madeira.  Although November was upon us flowers such as bougainvillea, poinsettias (Morning Glory), agapanthus and others, were still blooming and fruits were still growing by the roadside.  Our four intrepid explorers travelled by cable car to reach the dizzy heights of Monte, being entranced by the wonderful view of the countryside beneath and the brightness of the houses glowing in the sunshine.  On reaching the destination one was able to visit the botanical gardens – again a wonderful experience for those who had time to stand and stare, or visit the very beautiful church.  Others were more concerned with the options for descent – either by bus or by sitting in a wicker ‘basket’ sled in order to be whisked at great speed down the very steep roadway, steered by two men running alongside and hanging on to attached ropes.

 

Well ….. who could resist?

 

What an experience.  The ‘drivers’ must be extremely fit as this is how they spend their working lives.  For the passengers this is the moment when all inhibitions can be thrown away and one can make as much noise (or more) than ever before in life.  Whirling and twisting, with a great and mighty g-force element pushing the face into never seen before expressions of enjoyment/terror/delight (take your pick);   wind blowing the carefully coiffed hair into an Elvis peak; and, naturally, at the end, the obligatory photograph, to take home to prove to your grandchildren that, yes, you really are mad.

 

Little Dragons would not have recognised those who took part as the normally fairly restrained members seen at Tuesday morning sessions.

 

Wow!  Brilliant!  When can we do it again?

 

       Val Butterworth

green_dragon_s

November 2013

green_dragon_s    From the Dragon’s Den               

Three visitors attended Little Dragons recently. All three attend school now but, in the past, have been regular members of Little Dragons.  Two of them belonged to our very first group, both being a month short of three years old when they attended and being the older members in our initial group of nine.  Now they are both ten years old and seem quite grown up, preparing to make the huge transition from primary school to secondary school.   Our third visitor is the younger brother of one of the girls.

It was good to see their delight as they examined the art and craft on offer, considered their size against the size and height of the toys and dressing-up clothes.

It was also most entertaining to view their input with the present crop of LDs.  They helped little ones with the sticking and assembling of black birds (crows if anyone asks – one needing a vivid imagination when working at this level).  It was noted that, following story time, when the art table was momentarily empty, the two girls were busy sorting and sticking in order to bear their own trophies home at the end.

The two girls helped at story time, taking the part of the puppeteers as the story unfolded of Crawford the Crow and his friend Cindy, whilst younger brother played his part in reminding me which songs or rhymes we were going to sing to fit in with the earlier activities.

It was a good morning both for the Little Dragons and the visitors, but also for the Senior Dragons who could view with joy a by-product of seven years’ work.

There are days when we all need, but don’t always get, some recognition as a boost for effort we have made, for energy used leaving us spent and exhausted.  This morning’s visitors helped to give those who have been with Dragons for a long time a huge lift; displaying in human terms a reward for effort made.  This was one of those times when, ‘Give me joy in my heart!’ became very meaningful.

Val Butterworth

October 2013

October 2013                         green_dragon_s

       From the Dragon’s Den                

All back to normal now following the summer break.  All equipment was clean and tidy ready for the onslaught.  We had a Big Clean prior to the opening day and, as ever, it is amazing what you find when you delve to the bottom of the various boxes and baskets.  Much to our disappointment we have been unable to locate a black, shiny shoe belonging to one of the dolls.  All through the past months we have constantly been discovering the shoe – in the dolls’ house, in the Lego box, in the toy train box, in the garage.  Naturally, when the time arrived to replace the shoe onto its owner’s foot – it has vanished.  I think it is all part of a bigger plan to keep us alert now that so many (well, all) Senior Dragons are getting a bit long in the tooth.

The first day back is always special.  The returnees all look round with amazement when they enter but in no time at all are busy following remembered pursuits.  It is amazing to see how much Little Dragons grow during even a short break and especially during the summer break.

I remember, as a child, the first day back at school after the summer holidays.  Everything was clean and tidy.  New pencils beckoned or, as one got older, pens with shiny, new nibs.  There was always the excitement (and this was quite a long time ago) of the possibility of becoming the ink- well monitor.  I was never lucky enough for that but always seemed to get jobs that entailed tidying the library books or keeping the teacher’s cupboard tidy.  Quite a privilege I suppose and certainly good practice for keeping the Little Dragon cupboards and equipment tidy and in good order and, perhaps, a foretaste of what was to come in my career as a teacher.

In that role I well remember the feeling when standing in a clean, tidy classroom prior to the arrival of a new class.  What would the weeks ahead hold?  Would they be an easy class?  Would they be fun?   Would they learn anything?  I will never forget the feeling of terror before welcoming my very first class – 45 four-year old Reception pupils – Would I be able to teach them anything and how would I do it?

Many weeks, months and years later I, and others with me, felt exactly the same way about our first Little Dragon meeting – seven years ago.  Would anyone turn up?  How many might there be?  What would we do with them?  The rest, as they say, is history; a good history, an enjoyed and enjoyable history.  Long may it last!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Val Butterworth

September 2013

green_dragon_s       From the Dragon’s Den                

George and Sam writing:  Val is still (hopefully) wielding a paint brush so we have decided to sneak in a quick update on the excitements of life in and around the Little Dragon cupboard.

At the end of July, we were placed, very tidily, into our basket as Little Dragons broke up for the usual summer holiday.  We settled down for a nice, quiet time, preparing to have a few chats with Idris and his friend Scooby, who have somehow managed to find their way into our basket.  This is fine except that Idris lapses into Welsh now and again and Scooby sings ‘Love is a burning thing!’ at every opportunity. He says that someone called Jonny Cash used to sing it but he could be making it up as he goes along.

A few days into our holiday we realised that our church was full of noise – singing and chattering.  We remembered that the children’s Holiday Club was taking place and we enjoyed watching all the activity through the space at the top of the door and listening to the children’s enjoyment.  They were doing something about space and learning lots about what goes on there and what scientists have found out; and they heard lots of stories about a man called Daniel and his friends who had really odd names – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  Their lives changed so much that they could have been on a different planet and that’s where the connection was – or so we heard someone say.  Anyway, it all seemed to be great fun and we learned some new songs all about ‘Journeying Through Space and Time!’  and ‘Living God’s Way!’   The children all seemed to be having a wonderful time.  We noticed that we knew most of the adults who were helping.  We think that they all looked thinner by the end of the week.  We can’t imagine why – although they did seem to be doing a lot of exercising one way or another.  Anyway, they were still smiling by the time the last day came, so they must have enjoyed it as well.

We heard a rumour the other day that the Big Dragons are coming to tidy us up very shortly and get us ready for the new term.  So, we had better keep our heads down and look our usual innocent selves.

Keep smiling!   George and Sam                 green_dragon_s