A minimalist childhood

I haven’t read the books. Apparently The Life Changing Method of Tidying Up is sweeping households and advocates minimising possessions to those that ‘spark joy’. That’s fine and we did invoke such decisions on our move. (Although I am still bewildered how our can opener failed to materialise while Basic Television mocks me from the bookshelf).  But what about if you are a precociously cheeky anklebiter and everything the colour of digger yellow or dump truck orange and/or “is mine” or anything that is “not mine” all spark immense joy? Oh and the fact that we don’t have the money nor desire to purchase new things. (Sorry Anklebiter 2, you never had a chance at new stuff. But you do have a brother!) In tandem to tidying up, Simplicity Parenting caught my eye in the early days. A quick gander of its contents reveal it’s along the same lines of sparking joy but in the realm of childhood. It promotes unfettered creative play.

All this minimal simplicity had me thinking: which experiences spark joy and engage the ‘imagination’ muscles? Therein lies my underlying mantra when I wake up, for myself and my children. Such experiences alone require a minimalist childhood. It is evident every time we venture outdoors and I see anklebiter 1 grapple with branches, embed detritus into his fingernails and proclaim “I’m making dinner. Come eat.” Or how he likes to run his fresh fingers along the cobbled cold walls en route to the library and then stops with orbit eyes. “There’s a garbo over there. Let’s go see.” The neighbourhood is effervescent stimulation.

So with this long-winded intro, I bring you this week’s book, The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000 by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski. Set in a futuristic world, eight double-page settings are populated with the inhabitants of Mamoko. Other than the first double-page spread introducing the cast of characters, there are no words. Readers are invited to follow along the re-occurring protagonists /antagonists and create their own narratives.  Anklebiter 1 finds it an adventure to search out the chosen character of the day. Every time we open the book, a new story unfolds especially as ankle biter 1 is discovering his voice. “Owwww apples. He’s going to make pies.” “They planting (flower) ‘cuz they picked one and they weren’t suppose to.” Um yea, projection. The level of detail is captivating and the sturdiness of its pages, rewarding. It is my hope that as the anklebiters age, their words will divulge unique and vast stories. Minimal wording but an ebullience of joyful and imaginative experiences. If that’s what a minimalist childhood entails, so be it.

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Vivian Romero

I want to activate the urban imagined: stimulating, healthy and sustainable spaces for all (especially the young and young at heart).

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