One of my treasured rituals with the Minnesota grandchildren is to make up bedtime stories for them. Out of ‘I don’t know where’ I came up with this character called Kopper the Hopper. Kopper is a not too bright kangaroo who keeps getting hit in the head by golf balls as he wanders out onto a golf course.
Of course, when the story is being told (and usually made up on the fly) Brennan and Charlotte are under the covers and getting binged on the head every time Kopper gets hit by an errant golf ball. The kids love it and beg for more. I’ve had to expand the storyline to now include a shark in Nana’s swimming pool, tickle bugs on the golf course, a huge bear in the mountains surrounding the golf course and so forth.
Since Sharon and I have an entirely different nighttime routine with the Colorado kids, I decided last year to write a play for them when both families came to the desert for Christmas. So last year the grandkids performed the inaugural staged reading of our first family play entitled ‘Kitten’s Bad Day.’
It was a staged reading that featured all five of the grandkids and Cash, the wonder dog. Our audience included parents and visitors alike, all of whom loved the performance. Sure enough, the kids were hooked. We just performed our second family play this Thanksgiving.
Spencer wanted to see a return of his favorite fire-breathing dragon. Brennan was lobbying for Kopper the Hopper to make an appearance. Neither made the cut. Instead we had a menagerie of hand puppets, discussions about ‘owning their role’ and a return of Cash, the wonder dog.
The play was entitled: ‘Animal Clappers.’ The children were as animated as their hand-puppets and even Cash seemed to enjoy his star status. I fear perhaps I’ve created a stage monster here since there have already been plenty of hints about next years staged extravaganza and who gets to play which role.
All five of my grandchildren seem to have a knack for the fine arts in one form or another. They’ve all been to art classes in Apple Valley, Palm Springs, Colorado, London and Hawaii. Wherever Nana and the gang gather, there are sure to be art classes.
Maya has been performing in plays since she was very young. She came to Minnesota to see me perform in a play at the Steeple Center a couple of years ago.
We took all the kids to see ‘School of Rock’ in London at the Gillian Lynne Theatre with a lot of museums added along the way.
When the kids were here for Thanksgiving, we took them to the see ‘A Christmas Story, the Musical’ at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert.
So when the kids asked about this year’s play earlier in the year, they had a lot of suggestions for me. Spencer loved the idea of a fire-breathing dragon which never made the cut in last year’s play. Brennan was anxious to see Kopper the Hopper come to life and Charlotte seemed overly concerned about star billing and the attendant compensation. Spoken like a pro, she’s only eight.
Fortunately for us grandparents, all five of the grandchildren have taken to the arts in one form or another.
Samantha is a prodigious writer, piano player and budding actress. She also excels on her traveling soccer team.
Maya is a singer and an actress. She paints and plays on a traveling Lacrosse team.
Brennan and Spencer are both vociferous readers and artists in their own right. Both love chess, video games and assembling puzzles meant to warp adult minds. Spencer loves gymnastics and Brennan his hockey.
Charlotte is an award-winning artist as is her brother. She is a flash on her hockey team and seems to have an’instinct’ for the game.
An introduction to the arts at this stage in their young lives will hopefully set all the grandchildren up for a lifetime of exploration and experimentation.
Add to those sports, cooking classes, art classes, music lessons, the theater and travel and I’d say the kids are hopefully on the right track.