Who doesn't remember opening a new box of crayons as a child?. I remember every year, the first day of school with all it's anticipation and excitement of the new school year. Our teachers would go to their little supply closet, bring out a box and usually ask a student to help pass them out. They came in black boxes, I can't remember the name brand. It didn't really matter because they were new, not one was broken and they smelled....wow! they smelled just wonderful! I loved the day that we got new crayons and water color paint boxes with the little paint dips that popped out when the color was gone and you could go ask the teacher for a new one to snap into place. Ahhh my brain went back to Polk Elementary School and all those wonderful memories of being a child and growing up in a time long past. Even as my children went to school, no longer were school supplies just handed out on the first day of school, but our trips to ShopKo down on 12th Street were always an adventure, (usually a very expensive one) that always included buying Crayons for the pencil boxes.
As a mom, I had a love-hate relationship with crayons. I loved seeing my children be creative, making pictures for me to hang on the fridge or shaving and melting crayons with an iron between waxed paper, then cutting the paper into beautiful, colorful autumn leaves. I loved getting art projects from school and seeing them beam with pride. I hated scraping melted crayons off the car seat when one would be left in the hot sun, I hated scrubbing walls off that had been colored on, sometimes even signed with a scrawling little signature of the perpetrator, I really hated it when I forgot to check a pocket and washed a crayon, only to find out that my whole load of wash had been ruined in the dryer. And of course it was always a battle to get the crayons picked up and put away after they had been used.
Why you ask, the sudden interest and walk down memory lane about crayons??? Well, twice this week I realized that Croatian children do not have crayons. Yep... how can a whole nation of children grow up without crayons??? Coloring books and crayons are just a standard for our children aren't they? It's kind-of like they don't have pumpkin pie either. How UN American can you get? Oh right...I'm not in Kansas anymore!
We closed a project this week at our little Roma Preschool. They were so ticked with their new bathroom. By the looks of the toothpaste everywhere, they had been having a lesson on brushing teeth in their new digs.
The children greeted us with great enthusiasm, do you think they saw the bag of candy I had in my hands? The national television station was there as well to cover the occasion, a bathroom in a Roma preschool? It must have been a slow news day. Anyway, Jim and our translator did a great job. It's a little two room school house, three rooms, counting the bathroom. It was so cold, even with all the activity and numbers, the cold was chilling. I wondered how in the world those children and the teacher could stand to be in such cold? We met with the mayor and left a challenge for the town to match our funds to put in a heating system for them. We gave them three weeks to come up with an answer. So that project is still pending.
At one point the teacher brought out little pages for the children to color. They looked like they had been printed off on a computer, then she brought out a couple of cans with colored pencils standing up in them. The children eagerly reached for a pencil and began their work. What no CRAYONS???? These kids are pre-school. They hardly have the dexterity to handle a fat crayon at that age, but a pencil?? Okay, I said to myself, I'll go find some crayons and bring them next time I come. You know, I am on a shopping mission, right? So yesterday afternoon, Jim and I were headed to the store when one of my neighbors stopped and asked us how we were doing. Her little boy, Fran, had just gotten out of the hospital from getting his tonsils out. So I decided that I should buy him a coloring book and crayons...What a joke! I went into the school supply isle, thinking ...hum, where is the wall of crayons? After looking for some time, I finally found one, one and only one mind you, package of roll up crayons. They cost 19 kuna or about $4.00. After searching long and hard we finally found a coloring book in the regular book section for about 23 kuna. No wonder they don't have crayons and coloring books...who in Croatia has money to spend on that. No demand, no supply, I guess.
We bought them and last night I ran them down to our little Fran, bless his heart, he didn't even know what they were. His mommy had to show him what to do with them. Crayons, one of my wonderful childhood memories, not even on the radar here in Croatia. I am on the hunt though, for affordable little treasures that we can give our sweet little preschoolers.
|Roma pre-school bathroom--before|
My hope is that for all of you who read this blog, that you will gather whatever little ones you have around you this week and go buy them a new box of crayons, make a memory for them and while you are doing it remind them that there our children in Croatia who don't even know what a crayon is. How blessed we are to have crayons. It's just the little things, isn't it?
My Reading Goal-Jesus the Christ:
Chapters 5 and 6- finished
References marked in scriptures- finished chapter 4