Children Playing Blind Man’s Bluff

Children Playing Blind Man's Bluff by Friedrich Caspar Hoesch, ca 1860
Children Playing Blind Man’s Bluff by Friedrich Carl Hoesch, ca 1860

For some time now my kids have enjoyed playing Marco Polo, a similar game to Blind Man’s Bluff. I don’t usually enjoy watching kids play. Kids are not very tactful and are trying to put into practice the ideas they learned just two minutes ago, which sometimes leads to very thoughtless, mean, or awkward moments.

And still, when someone crosses someone’s line (a boy pushing through the crowd instead of saying excuse-me; a girl not answering a question; another girl deciding to sit out a game everyone else is playing), the line-crossed child goes to that unfortunate other child’s parent and tells them about it. I’ve even been told by a nine-year-old girl to have a little talk with my eight-year-old son about saying excuse me. Maybe I’m still that awkward, quiet girl on the playground, because I am shamed to have children tattle to me about some minor wrong my children have done to them.

Aren’t other boys rough and loud? Is my son seriously the first and only rough, loud, pushy, annoying boy these kids have met? Because they ought to meet my husband. Are my daughters really required to join in some game they aren’t feeling comfortable joining? They ought to know me a little better. (And some of them did yesterday, when I felt uncomfortable leading my children up a tall tower staircase with thirty other people at a field trip. I insisted we stay down, and I’m relieved with my decision.)

So here I sit at my computer, hating the meanness of childhood, and yet sticking up for my kids and other kids who haven’t reached the maturity levels their friends and their friends’ parents expect them to have. They are growing, folks. We’re all growing. We’re all growing differently. I’m probably not going to grow to be really brave about towers and driving. My husband isn’t going to grow to be a gentle, art-loving reader-man. My son will never grow out of his really loud voice. He may never grow out of his bull-in-a-china-shop persona. My daughter might never grow to be a social butterfly. But they will grow in other ways. We will all grow in other ways. And that’s reassuring on a grand scale, but not so great for the next time I have to watch Marco Polo… Maybe I’ll have to put the blindfold on myself.

The Children’s Hour

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

— by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1860

I needed to remind myself that this time of my life is The Children’s Hour and not The Crazy-Loud-Yelling-Complaining-Whining Hour. I really do love all three of my own blue-eyed banditti.

The Purple Stocking

The Purple Stocking by James Jebusa Shannon (1862-1923)
The Purple Stocking by James Jebusa Shannon (1862-1923)

Sometimes you have to marvel at an artist’s ability to compose a picture to perfection! Here the circles, colors, and textures are all put together beautifully. And I love the fact that the artist puts a gold halo around the girl’s head, but names the painting after the stocking you can barely see. Perhaps that’s another part of the composition… blatant beauty balanced by a humble title.

The Secret Garden

Much more surprising things can happen to any one who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.

— from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911

I forget this all the time. And sometimes it’s almost impossible to do. But I believe it can be done, and with practice, it gets easier. It worked for Mary and Colin in the book. At the end of the book, it seems likely it will work for Colin’s very depressed father. This is what a secret garden is good for; it can be thought of and push bad thoughts away. I must tell my mind to be strong and courageous. God gives us wonderful places to dream about.

In the Secret Garden


In the Secret Garden by Gustave Doyen (1837-?)

Wouldn’t it be nice to provide each of my children with a secret garden? They could retreat there, keep it a secret from whomever they pleased, or share the secret with whomever. They could cultivate it or let it grow wild. It wouldn’t matter which. They could skip rope through it. They could practice talking like their father (I’ll give the flurs a shur) or their mother (Fly, I’ve had enough! If you buzz once more I’m going to count) or just like themselves. They could get away from me when I’m cleaning and won’t read the next chapter of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (which they really want to hear!). They could do their math work there, and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. They could learn some independence in a secret garden.

Really, though, I’m the one who wants a secret garden. It is just a dream right now. It wouldn’t work out in reality. But someday, in another phase of my life, perhaps I’ll have something quiet, natural, and lovely where I can go and improve my temperament. Or maybe it will always be in my dreams. Maybe it will be on paper, in a book or a poem. Maybe my secret garden will be a garden of pictures on the wall. Maybe it is anything that is restful. Maybe the point is that I don’t write about it, because then it wouldn’t be secret.

Fall Freedom

This afternoon, as I picked sticks off the lawn and watched my children doing some strange activity involving long branches and hordes of black walnuts, I decided my favorite thing about fall is the way everything frees up. Half of the cornfield across our driveway has been chopped, and it leaves me with a sense of relief, as if I’d been holding my breath while the corn was growing tall. Soon the weeds in our woods will die, and we’ll be able to ramble around the woods again. The leaves are just beginning to fall off the trees, and that opens up more space above. Even the temperature, dropping, seems to leave a vacancy where the heat and humidity once were.

Perhaps our calves felt it, too. At twilight four calves freed themselves from their fenced-in yard. We got them back in. But fall freedom is in the air!

Rich Davis and the 1-Minute Artist

I don’t remember how I came across Rich Davis, a Christian artist, but I’m glad I did! He makes fun things for kids (and adults) who like to draw. He has a new drawing book out called The 1-Minute Artist. You can find it here on Amazon. You can also learn more about the book at his website:

We’ve had the book for about two days, and below are the fun results of my three kids putting together a scene of some of the items Mr. Davis taught them to draw!

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Although I didn’t take a picture of my scene, I also had a blast drawing from the book:) In fact, I’ve got an unfinished scene on the table now, waiting…

Thanks for the inspiration, Rich Davis!