Sunday, September 27, 2009

Franklin – A Little Inspiration

My learning about current characters that children love started from bookstores. That was also how I found out about Franklin, the creation of Paulette Bourgeois.

We have become so much in love with this character. His stories are always so real, that it is so easy for us to make Tara learn some things about daily life just by reading her various stories of Franklin and his friends.

And one day when I needed an inspiration, Franklin came to my rescue.

A wish

It all started with a wish. That Tara grows up to be someone who pays attention to the less fortunate people given the fortunate life that she has. That one day Tara understands that for everything that she has, there is a little something that belongs to those who do not have anything.

So when she had her third birthday, we decided to celebrate that in an orphanage. We wanted her to see the less fortunate kids, and learn to share her joy with them. It was a joyful, also tearful, experience. We all enjoyed it.

Tara enjoyed it because she could play with smaller kids. We enjoyed it because we could share our happiness with those kids. Some of them never even knew their parents. One of them hugged me, and I almost fell down on my knees into tears when he looked at me and called me, “Ibu” (or mother), with such a sweet voice. And that day Cip and I knew that we would make it a habit to visit orphanage on her birthdays.

Then came 23 September 2009. Tara turned 5. The age that marked a difference. She was no longer the ‘below 5’, she is going to a different stage (and us, a different headache). I had been looking forward to this time. And I had been squeezing my brain to think of how to celebrate this day so it can be meaningful not only to us, but also to others.

We knew that we had to celebrate this big day by sharing again. So the first thing I did was to find an orphanage. My criterion was unfortunately very simple: it had to be close from home. Because I knew we would not have enough energy to go too far, since the date that we picked was close to Eid (27 September, just a week after Eid). We would just be back from our home coming trip, and a lot of other things to do after it, that I knew it would be asking too much of myself to plan something far from home.

And so I found one. After that, I wrecked my brain to think of how to make the celebration fun, for us and for those kids.

Thankfully, one of Franklin’s stories inspired me.

Franklin’s Birthday Party

We bought this one last year, with no special intention other than buying a new book for us to read to Tara as we have run out of options at home. But nonetheless, this book came to my rescue.

In this story, Franklin wanted to have his birthday at an amusement park because his friends suggested that he celebrated his birthday at a place with lots of games to play with. But of course a trip to the amusement park was too expensive for his parents to pay for, if he wanted to invite all of his friends. So his father had an idea that they built games at their backyard, complete with all the prizes to win at each game. And so they built mini-golf, fountain, and some other games at home. And on Franklin’s birthday, the backyard became an amusement park. This then became the best birthday party that Franklin has ever had, and he and his friends had a lot of fun.

I suddenly remembered this story when Tara, Cip and I were playing in Tara’s room at The Cocoon, our hideaway in BSD. That time we were playing with Tara’s play mat, pretending that it was a lake full with crocodiles, and we had to jump from one mat to the other so we would not fall into the lake. As I jumped from one mat to another, I thought, hey, why not creating games for Tara’s birthday.

So I told Cip and Tara, what if we did what Franklin did on his birthday. Why didn’t we create games for others to enjoy. They just loved the idea. And so, Cip and I began planning.

A day that has brought a smile to everyone

Then came the Big day.

We had five games: fishing, bowling, putting marbles in a glass, make your dot in the circle, and complete your puzzle. For every game, there is a prize – just some wafer or biscuit or chocolate, from the brands that kids know (and I thought, love, based on so many consumer focus group discussions that I had listened to!. There is a merit in being a marketing researcher!).

We hired an MC and a Barney clown. We asked some lovely friends to help out (ladies, we could not have done this without your kindest help!!).

We only invited some friends, just so we could meet up since Eid was just over, and also as a ‘test’ to see if this idea was really liked and could really make kids excited so we can repeat later. We asked those who could come to bring whatever they wanted to donate to the orphanage – be them books or clothes. We thought, why not make this a day that we really shared things. I did not want Tara to have her presents thinking that there are other kids who never even get anything on their birthdays.

Each kid was given five colourful coupons (they were just simply colourful post its – oh well, I just ran out of imagination!), that they could use at any game. And they just loved it!.

And it turned out to be a wonderful day for all of us.

Get your candies from the pinnata!!!

and everyone had lots of fun...

We always thought of big things to make kids happy. And yet, an idea that was so simple, could actually bring so much fun and laughter. It was wonderful to see Tara laughed so much with her friends, and her friends – old and new, to have also laughed as much.

Cip and I are not sure how much the day has imprinted an image in Tara’s mind. But we both know that she can still remember that visit to the orphanage on her third birthday. So, we trust that her grey cells had been working hard to store the memories of the 27th September as yet another loving memory in her life. And hope, a loving memory that is associated with loving others, that one day she can extract and use in her daily life.

And I wish that everyone who was there could also keep that memory of sharing. At the end of the day, we all live for and with one another, no man is an island. Thank you for coming and sharing. May God give you a fortunate life for always.

My HUGE thanks to my lovely, beautiful hearted friends who helped preparing for this event – Sita, Erta, Dina…love you ladies!. Without friends like you, this world is an empty space!.

And I pray that God continues to grant us health, so we can continue thinking of how to make sharing fun, and to share fun to others. Everyone deserves a little help to smile.


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