one of the best presents i have ever given was a book to hold AP’s collection of the 50 state quarters. for ten years now–before M was born, before we lived in the jungle, before we were married–he’s been collecting these quarters. and now there are just two more spots, Alaska and Hawaii. we had the book out to add New Mexico, and Mabel was finding all the coins with trees and all the horses and all the birds. then she asked about the Alabama quarter.
i told her that was a picture of Helen Keller, that she was an amazing woman who wrote books even though her eyes and ears didn’t work. we talked a bit more. she was really interested, so i told her the story of Helen at the water pump with her teacher Annie. how Annie pumped the water into Helen’s hand and finger spelled the word as the water flowed over her hand. then i took my glass of water and spilled it into Mabel’s hand and spelled w-a-t-e-r. she kept asking for the story to be told all evening long.
the next day we happened to be in the neighborhood of the Hollywood library. we found 4 or 5 books about Helen, and had them all spread out comparing the different illustrations. M was fascinated with the water pump. i explained how it worked, how it was different from just turning on the faucet. she loved this detail of the story. but the book with the best illustrations (including a picture of Helen finger spelling in her dog’s paw!) didn’t have a picture of the pump.
and now a week later and M is still interested, still asking questions, still practicing her skills as a story teller. she’s been learning new signs. she finger spells and signs for her stuffed animals! i’m almost done with The Story of My Life. AP might have his reading class work on a piece about Helen.
…learning all the time.