Early relationships can take time to bed in; to eventually blossom unaided into a truly transformative bloom. But with some relationships this bedding in period is greatly reduced, when the grounds for planting are well prepared and those involved want to grow.
I recently visited Mahogany Care Home where I was greeted by Sarah. She told me that they were expecting the local nursery children any time and so we went to the lounge where the intergenerational session was to take place. There were a number of residents present, all waiting eagerly for the arrival of their tiny counterparts. This was only the second time the children were to visit but many had come to be part of the fun.
We only waited a few expectant moments before a neon line began to snake its way into the lounge, chattering as it came. This line consisted of 17 three and four-year olds from St Marks Primary, noses and cheeks flushed from the winter’s chill. Neon vests and coats removed the children sat in the centre of the lounge; they had brought with them toys, crayons and instruments for their visit. One gent shouted as they sat “that’s the best sight I’ve seen in ages”, another adding “what a wonderful sight” as children roamed, acclimatising to the lounge and its occupants.
They began with a colouring session and, as I spoke with one of the teaching staff, she pointed out a few of the children, explaining how they were normally more reserved, but there they were showing residents their drawings and building tall structures of brightly coloured plastic to share with the adults in the room. It certainly appeared that introversion gave way to extroversion when young and old combined. One little girl approached a lady who is blind; the teacher accompanied her and guided the block she gave as a gift into the older lady’s hand. A gentle moment of reciprocation occurred as the lady felt the block and they smiled together.
As bendy towers grew ever taller, threatening to break under their own expanse the teachers guided the children back to the art they had already commenced. One little girl gave out crayons to residents and paper accompanied the children as they stood together drawing. One chap was inundated with sketches created by the children after initially being given one, so many more joined the solitary pile to form a sizable amount of art. This gent commented on what a credit the children are to the school, and how they made him smile whilst beaming at his bounty of creativity gifted by his new tiny friends. Another gent added that “they are amazing” when talking of the creations the little ones had gifted.
Soon cups of orange and blackcurrant were flowing accompanied by tunes familiar to many as the children began singing nursey rhymes which included ‘5 current buns’ One lady was chosen to be the ‘baker’ for the duration of the song and was handed 5 plastic buns by one of the children. Each time the number of buns decreased a child approached the baker and bought a bun to take away. A teacher commented on how this lady had no buns left which prompted one little girl to rise and give the baker back a bun. She was followed by more children until the baker was inundated, holding many more than the original five buns. She didn’t seem to mind at all as she sat juggling the plastic confectionary whilst chatting with their donors. This was followed by further tunes recognisable to all including ‘Wind the bobbin up’ and ‘Hickory, Dickory Dock’ and we even learnt ‘Baa Baa Pink Sheep’ – an updated version on the classic I remember from childhood but which involved giving wool to a ghost as opposed to a dame!
As the session drew to a close, adults shouted out “you are all very, very amazing” to the children present. Teachers talked of future sessions and of ideas shared between us today. When the children had gone people commented on what a lovely time they had had and on how lovely they felt the children were. Sarah beamed as we spoke in the office following the session and it is clear that Mahogany staff enjoyed the session as much as the children and residents.