Ankle Biter 1 attends daycare in the mornings. Dad cycles him en route to his work. At least once a week Ankle Biter 1 proclaims proudly , “I’m going to work.” Adults may scoff and placate by thinking, “how cute.” But really, play is work for children. Somewhere along the way, we as adults have forgotten the importance of work: maintaining our sustenance in the fullest sense. If you take ‘work’ from the perspective of a child, it is explorative and frustrating, cacophony and symphony, intense and joyful. Even in the resting, it is productive. Play is work and work should be play. Goodness, Peter Pan was on to something.
Anyways, with this little soap box rant, I bring you this week’s book, Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats. The endearing protagonist, Peter, spies a dog running to another boy after a whistle. This spectacle prompts Peter to begin his best efforts at whistling. Despite his trials, no whistle emerges. In the interim, he plays outside, in boxes, with chalk, skipping on cracks and jumping on shadows. After all of this ‘work’ he sees his dog Willie and hides in a box. Triumphantly, Peter whistles and Willie follows. Peter returns home to share his new found talent. Pleased as peaches, his mum then asks him to whistle all the way to the grocery store for some goods. He does so, happily and with Willie by his side.
Ankle biter 1 likes the story because of the chalk drawings. “Look, he’s drawing, why isn’t he using orange?” Both ankle biters like to hear me whistle and they in turn try to imitate. They have yet to plead for a canine. I enjoy the story for the great independence that Peter demonstrates whilst walking. Even today, when children walk (if allowed to do so), they experience their surroundings in the most physical and engaging way. A type of ‘work’ that everyone should encourage.