ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the January 6, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by Shirley Barrette. It also fills the "toys" square in my 12-17-14 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. This poem belongs to the Danso & Family thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Painted Trifles and Fantastic Toys"


The sound of children's laughter
filled Hannah's small house to the brim.

Rosita was clambering around Danso's lap,
which evidently tickled from his intermittent chuckles.

Hadyn had discovered the game Herd Your Horses,
then talked Lakia into learning it, the two of them giggling
as they bent over the board with its colorful artwork
and spun imaginary tales about their equine adventures.

Nathaniel sat in a semicircle of stuffed animals,
mostly rabbits and bears, all arranged
according to some pattern that
was not clear to Hannah but which
plainly meant something to him, because
every time somebody moved a toy
he would laugh and say, "No, silly!"
and put it right back where it was.

It felt good to see them so happy with their lives,
now that they had time to settle in and make friends,
learn what kind of toys and play they preferred,
relax and have some fun on weekends.

Beside her, Aidan heaved a sigh.
"What's wrong?" Hannah asked.

"She still doesn't really ... understand all this,"
He said tipping his head at his daughter Saraphina.

The toddler sat silently, watching the others play,
her bottle of juice held in a death grip.
She ignored the soft blocks in front of her.

"Maybe she just needs a hint," Danso said,
then turned to Nathaniel. "Hey, kiddo,
can I borrow one of these bears for Saraphina?"

Nathaniel nodded, Danso picked up
a plump brown bear dressed in yellow.
It rattled when he shook it,
making Saraphina lift her head.

She took the toy from his hand,
then held it against her ear.
When the sound stopped,
she dropped it again.

"You have to shake it to get the sound,"
Danso said, jiggling the bear again.

Saraphina gave it a half-hearted twitch
but did not seem inclined to play with it.

"Hmm, I've got another idea," Danso said.
"She might like a toy that does things.
Mom, can you take Rosita for me?"

Hannah accepted the baby, who was
just as happy to scramble over her
and Aidan as over her brother,
gurgling happily to herself as she
tried to unbutton Aidan's shirt.

Danso dug through the toybox
and then said, "Aha! Let's try this one."

He brought Saraphina a ball molded
from red, yellow, green, and blue plastic.
Then he showed her how pushing on
different parts would cause it
to rattle, click, or make other sounds.

Curious, Saraphina turned it over
in her tiny brown hands.
Then the ball popped apart.

"C'est cassé," she said,
her voice anxious,
turning to look at Aidan.

"I think it's supposed to do that,"
he said, picking up the pieces.
Sure enough, they fit right back together.
"See, the ball is like a puzzle."

Saraphina went back to playing with it,
and before long it came apart again.

Aidan reached over and reassembled it
before she could start fussing.
The next time, she pushed the pieces
toward him in a silent demand.

He snapped them together
and rolled the ball back.

"Sometimes I worry about her,"
Aidan admitted.

"She'll get the hang of it sooner or later,"
Danso said. "Kids from a rough background
might take a little longer to catch up,
but just having better toys can help.
Most of what we have here is educational
in some way, even if it doesn't look like it."

"That one is meant as a baby's activity ball,"
Hannah added. "It teaches grasping,
holding, and other manipulation skills.
You can also use it for practicing
color and shape recognition.
Saraphina is right in the middle
of its recommended age range."

"That's a great idea," Danso said.
"Saraphina, look -- red, yellow, blue, green."
He pointed to each of the colors in turn.
"Aidan, can you do them in French?"

"Rouge, jaune, bleu, vert,"
Aidan recited dutifully.

Saraphina repeated the colors,
pointing them out just as Danso had.
Then she went on to name other colors --
Hannah's gray sweater and Danso's brown one,
Nathaniel's purple socks and Hadyn's pink hair ribbon.

She didn't laugh as freely as the other children,
but the corners of her mouth turned up a little.

"I just want her to be happy," Aidan said.

"Sometimes," Hannah reminded him gently,
"we have to earn our happy endings."

* * *

Notes:

"Seeks painted trifles and fantastic toys, and eagerly pursues imaginary joys."
-- Mark Akenside

Herd Your Horses is a board game with beautiful imagery and several different modes of play. Traumatized children often don't know how to play. Parents can help by giving them hints about fun and safety.

Toxic stress can come from poverty, neglect, abuse, or other causes.

Rattle toys such as Nathaniel's bear teach cause and effect, memory, and distinguishing different sounds.

Puzzle toys like the activity ball teach shape recognition, motor skills, and language skills.

C'est cassé.
It's broken.
-- English-French dictionary

Learn French colors with a bilingual coloring book.

Popular tropes include Earn Your Happy Ending in entertainment and Golden Ending in games. Parents want their kids to be happy, but it can be an elusive pursuit. Here are some tips from science and from kids.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-16 11:08 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Herd Your Horses sounds like a game I would have loved as a pre-teen! Hell, I'd try it now if I had a regular gaming group like I used to in Nashville.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-17 12:59 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Without reading the rules, it even looks like you can play all three variations at the same time. I'd love this game, too!

Young French games

Date: 2015-01-17 01:59 am (UTC)
librarygeek: cute cartoon fox with nose in book (Default)
From: [personal profile] librarygeek
I can remember pointing out parts of the face with my grandmother, to the extant that thinking them in French inevitably comes with images of my grandmother's face. :-) We would mix up the lines of Frere Jacques in English and French. Also Grandmere played the opera Carmen on her record player, and would sing wrong words so I had to say what the idea was that she changed.

OH

Date: 2015-01-17 05:00 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
This one sneaked past me!

I like it, mostly because I was a /very/ worried new parent. Despite Aidan's worry, Saraphina's responses in other ways are BIG hints that her setbacks are temporary. It's a very, very optimistic story despite his focus.

If I ever landed in T-America, I don't know whether I'd hit a city park, a playground or a library first, but I do know I'd be reluctant to find a way home unless my family was stil here.

That, and two decades have made a lot of small scale, specialized toys available worldwide, hundreds of times the number of things I could find for them at those ages.

Re: OH

Date: 2015-01-17 05:59 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Morphlock aside, I'd love to end up in Terramagne. I wouldn't really look back much, I'd just go hero around a lot.

Re: OH

Date: 2016-09-30 08:36 am (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
>> Yeah, the variety is MUCH better now than it used to be, if you know where to look for the good stuff. <<

One of the best places to go for such things in Rain City is this one.

Oh, wow! The search for a link to Snapdoodle not only got me to their site but also alerted me that they now have *two* locations! The original is in the suburb of Kenmore, the new one is out in Redmond. Moar goodeez, yaaaay!!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-17 07:24 pm (UTC)
chanter_greenie: a lilac tree in bloom (Wisconsin spring: lilac season)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
Awwww. *hugs Saraphina* You know, my niece is in the age range for learning colors and shapes, and now I want to teach them to her in multiple languages even more than I already did!

For whatever reason, I can easily hear Sister saying c'est cassé about something in conversation, and now the idea won't leave me alone. Why that stuck with me, I have no clue.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-17 12:02 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
That's good. :-)

• can I borrow one of these bear for Saraphina?"
?→ bears

Thank you!

Date: 2015-01-17 12:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad you liked it.

Typo fixed!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-17 04:58 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Awwwwww. :) And today I have learnt two new words! C'est un jour bon. :)

Yay!

Date: 2015-01-17 05:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I am happy to hear that.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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