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Judy Spooner Viewpoint: Kids remind us to look around in new ways

Third-grader Megan Cook colors a fairy. Next to her is a small fairy garden she made. (Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner)

I've liked the idea of fairies since I saw the movie "Peter Pan" when I was a child.

When I played with my doll house, I imagined some fairies also lived there. I made them invisible so only my imagination could see them.

I recently met someone else who likes fairies. I learned that Megan Cook thinks about fairies, too, when I took her picture several weeks ago. It was a hot day and I wanted to take a picture of someone doing something to keep cool. She was at the Dairy Queen with her mother and grandmother making short work of an ice cream cone before it melted.

Later that day, she told me, she was going to make a fairy garden with her grandma. I asked her mom to call me when it was done.

Megan invited me to her house to see it. It's a small pot with a broken side lined with small rocks. The top is filled with small plants, mostly cacti. The hole lined with rocks is the way a fairy can get into the garden, Megan said.

It was then I knew fairies were in her imagination too.

I learn a lot from kids who are more interesting than adults. They see the world differently than grown-ups do.

As we get older, we rely more on what I call "patterned thinking." Children remind me to look around me in new ways.

"Are fairies boys or girls?" I asked. "Both," she said.

I said I didn't think fairies are human. "They're creatures," Megan said, "with wings."

"What color would fairies wear?" I asked.

"I think purple for sure," Megan said. "Their wings are sparkly. They could wear pink. Everything in my room is pink, even my hamster cage."

I knew that Megan, a third-grader at Cottage Grove Elementary School, had a drawing selected for the District 833 art show so I suggested we draw a picture of a fairy.

Megan got crayons and two pieces of paper so I could draw one too.

While I worked on my fairy's wings, I said I was reading books called "Game of Thrones" that have dragons in them. They have two heads, I said.

Megan said she's reading "Dork Diaries" and, without much thought, said she would like two heads.

One of them could look behind you, I suggested, but Megan's image was different from mine.

She just wants the extra eyes that could look up and down.

As her fairy started coming together, it was evident that I wasn't in her league when it comes to drawing. The wings on my fairy were awful.

We named her fairy "Cari" because Megan wasn't sure she could spell "Charity."

"One more thing," she said, writing her name on the drawing and telling me I could take the small fairy garden home. "Art is better than gym."

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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