We are at the beach this week (or “down the shore,” as everyone else in NJ says). As we arrived at the beach, G looked up at the dunes and asked, “Mommy, is that woman a giant?” I had a flash of hope that maybe there was a tall sign, or a billboard or something with a picture of a woman on it. Nope, it was an overweight woman. I told him, no, she is not a giant, and he persisted, “But, Mommy, she’s really, REALLY large. I think she must be a giant.” At this point, I am just very thankful that we are having this conversation inside the car, where the poor woman enjoying herself at the beach couldn’t hear. I explained to him that while I was positive she is not a giant, she is a rather large woman, and that people are all different shapes. We then talked about how it could be very hurtful to talk about someone else’s appearance. Then I probably got a little confusing, because I told him it was ok to comment on someone’s appearance if we are absolutely sure we are saying something nice. We started to go through a couple of examples of comments on someone else’s appearance (ok to say “nice haircut!”, not ok to say you don’t like someone’s shirt), but, honestly, we had just arrived at the beach and G lost interest.
This conversation got me thinking about character development and positive behavior, which is the Readathon 2012 theme this week. To think about positive character traits, we decided to actually create our own characters, and then develop our own story using our characters. Because we are at the beach, the first thing that came to mind was to create characters out of shells.
G’s all time favorite activity, now 4 years running, is to collect seashells. So on our coastline walks we gathered objects we thought would be good for our project. G was especially concerned with finding seaweed to make hair.
As we sat around at the dinner table with my in-laws, my husband, and my grandmother, we talked about “character,” which we explained to G means each person’s traits and personality. We talked about how there are characteristics that are generally positive (honest, kind, friendly) and traits that are generally negative (rude, lazy). I explained that every person has many different characteristics, and we all made a big list of possible characteristics. Once we had a list, we read through it again, and G decided whether or not each description fit the character he was creating. I circled the ones he wanted, and we crossed off the ones he did not want. So G’s character (who, by the way, is an alien who is also a knight) is honest, kind to good guys, brave, generous, hardworking, faithful, energetic, rough with bad guys, friendly, funny, quiet, and loving. If I had to befriend an alien knight, this guy sounds like a pretty good one.