My daughter Nora turns 10 today!
I am so lucky because Nora is one of Trashmagination’s most dedicated supporters. She is always willing to try a new activity, even if it doesn’t look like much at first. She has been my #1 partner designing activities for children for the National Wildlife Federation’s Family Fun website. She has invented quite a few herself. We have photographed at least 200 activities together, really I’ve lost count.
Nora is incredibly patient when it comes to Trashmagination experiments. Often as we design the activities, we are missing a tool or a piece of string or something essential. She will wait for me to run all over the house gathering things mid-stream. And she has learned how to do activities slowly so I can photograph what she is doing from various angles, because it is often hard to predict how the lighting will be once she starts going, or whether some random thing will show up in the frame behind her.
Last year I asked Nora what her favorite activity was and she picked one she invented called the “Dino Spa.” This involves giving toy dinosaurs a nice massage with lotion, a bath, and painting their nails with washable paint. She came up with this on her own, and she has played it with so many kids. Even Russell, who tends to disdain manyoutdoor activities, loves this one.
Nora is also open-minded about geo-caching, which is one of my favorite things to do outside. She is not great at finding the caches or using the GPS yet, although she tries. Bob and Russell have lost patience for this a long time ago, but she still is willing to go with me.
Trashmagination and Parenting
Nora likes to do a million things beyond Trashmagination and geo-caching. But what’s different about those two activities is that I love them. She is showing her empathy for my feelings when she does these things with me.
I have learned that one of the trickiest things about parenting is finding activities that give energy to both parent and child. It’s easy for some people, I’m sure. But perhaps because I tend to enjoy odd pursuits, it’s not easy for me. That’s why I admire Nora so much for meeting me where I am, which is expected of the parent, but more extraordinary for the child.
Sometimes I wonder if all this talk about Trashmagination and re-use will result in a teenager that flagrantly wastes things as a way of rebelling against her mother. I guess we’ll see if that happens. I hope she sees Trashmagination just means using your imagination to do things better, and non-linear solutions. I hope she sees that you don’t have to take everything at face value – a plastic cap doesn’t have to be just a plastic cap.
When she was younger, Nora would pick up trash from the ground, and ask “what could we make with this, Mommy?” It was tricky because you have to draw the line somewhere. You can’t re-use everything and live a “normal” life. You can’t own the responsibility of creative re-use for the whole world. I didn’t want her to think I was a hypocrite, that I only addressed garbage when it was convenient. So I pointed out situations where we could “pre-cycle” ie. buy things that have no packaging, or not buy things at all. That’s the best we can do to live in a world where waste is so prevalent.
Early Photos of Nora Doing Trashmagination Activities
I looked through old photos to see if I could find pictures of Nora as a little baby doing Trashmagination-themed activity. The best photo I found was when Nora was playing with men’s ties that I had collected to make crazy quilts. Toddlers see the potential in almost anything, especially stuff that is not designed specifically for kids. Quantity and color make for lots of fun.
I also found this photo of Nora crawling on the mattress and box spring that I was breaking into component parts for recycling:
On Christmas Eve 2010, we got an email from work saying that the AP Wire wanted an activity to feature that involved suet, so we spent our Christmas Eve designing an egg carton suet feeder. It was featured in newspapers and websites across the country both in 2010 and 2011.
Happy Birthday, my amazing Nora!
I’m so grateful for your open-mindedness to LIFE. I admire how you treat your friends and manage life’s dramas. You have WAY more patience than me, as illustrated by how you treat Russell most of the time. Let’s keep seeking new and wonderful things to do together, from high ropes courses, to writing a blog, to dancing to Walking On Sunshine with Nana, to photographing family activities and everything in between.