Lynn Easton.

Early On: Hanging out with Mother Goose

Wesbrooke home to Westcoast Family Centres Mother Goose program.

Working from home can be isolating and lonely. I’ve mentioned how lucky I am that my friend from next door likes to visit. How I welcome his distinctive knock on the door and his open grin as he regularly drops in to chat during his busy day.

I am always thankful for his company.

My buddy is hard at work in Grade 1 this year and doesn’t get to lounge around for long leisurely visits anymore. Still, he’s now single-handedly widening my circle of friends as he introduced his younger sibling to the art of hanging out at my house.

It’s not a steep learning curve for her. She has spent much of her life in the company of her elders, on more than one continent, in more than one language.

And she speaks the language of intergenerational relationships with incredible ease and enthusiasm. Her comfort around people of all ages seems in stark contrast to many of our youngest citizens who are wary and afraid when their elders smile or talk to them. I know this because my mother is one of those enthusiastic seniors.

Since no one in her own brood is providing her great-grandchildren, she has taken to finding parents and their kids in parking lots and malls. She will enthusiastically chase a family down in to tell the children how beautiful they are, and tell their parents what a fabulous job they are doing.

Recently, my mom moved to Wesbrooke Village in Pitt Meadows with my father. Like anyone who makes a move, it takes time to feel at home in a new neighbourhood. But she was thrilled to discover that Wesbrooke was home to the Westcoast Family Centres Mother Goose program. That’s where parents bring their newborns and toddlers to sit in a circle and learn nursery rhymes, songs, and games.

For the past eight weeks, seniors living in Wesbrooke were invited to join in the circle and sing or shimmy along. During snack time, the toddlers crawled over to the nearest set of legs. They smiled openly at everyone. They cried and laughed at old and young with equal zeal.

I’ve been to these hour-long sessions and watched tired parents take a quick breather while seniors admire their offspring. I’ve seen seniors smile with a joy that lasts much longer than the one hour a week they get to share in this intergenerational sing-along.

Last week, marked the last of these sessions for the year. Because of changing funding models, the fate of Mother Goose and similar programs are up in the air at the moment. This happens in the precarious world of not-for-profit funding. And while these parents wait, there’s both angst, and hope, as those who depend on the program wonder whether they’ll be back next year.

It can be a long winter alone – just ask a parent or a senior.

To me, it’s a no-brainer to keep funding this program. It’s an intergenerational, fiscally responsible two-for-one. Maybe even a three-for-one, as seniors, parents, and toddlers all benefit from an hour a week of joyful noise.

Lynn Easton writes for the Ridge Meadows Early Childhood Development Committee.

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