Last Christmas my eldest niece and I had a chat on the day prior to my departure. She was moody and I knew that she was not impressed with the fact that I was leaving so early.
“Last year you stayed longer! Why do you have to leave early?”
“You are right, I stayed longer, but I also arrived later. I missed the Christmas function, St. Thomas and I did not go to school to pick you up. So overall, I stayed less time here”
“Hum… still, why don’t you come more often to see us? I don’t feel I can talk to you!”
She is right! why don’t I…? Is life so much more important than they are? I am actually not convinced about that.
I work, I volunteer, I do plenty of things to help many but, really, what do I have for myself and for those who matter to me?
She is a reserved and resilient person. Like me . She has to be very very very fed up of something to say it, and generally keeps it to herself and gets on with it in order to not add on to her mom’s , dad’s, grandparents’,teachers’ worries. Everyone sees this! So did they when i was her age, but nobody knew how to bring me into the conversation and let me voice my concerns…
She is soon to be seven, and I know what that means… you are fully aware of the world. And it sucks! (as they say) You know what is wrong but as a child, you have no power to do something about it. You have questions but you feel that those are not a priority in the bigger scheme of things.
As it happens, we have always had an agreement that she can ask anything to me and i will answer factually. I will never lie to her, no matter whether the questions is about life, death, science or anthropology… If I don’t know the answer, we find out together, as a team. And through this, we both learn.
Before I parted we agreed to make time every Tuesday to speak to each other (Tuesday, because it is the day that their mom is teaching after school and so, they are at my parents). We also agreed that I was going to find a platform for us to discuss topic she might be curious about or topics I might want to share with her.
I wanted to create something that would introduce her into technology in a natural way, as I did when i was 11 and got my first Amstrad. Something that would develop her reading and writing skills whilst feeding on to her curiosity. It had to be open and easy for her to feel in control by clicking the mouse herself (it is different to have adult supervision than adult management) and she had to have a way to send me feedback and communicate with me directly without the need of others… Something that as her brother and sister grow up , they too can learn to use and enjoy.
The result, a blog with a simple concept: A weekly postcard.
I generally write in Spanish but will also write in English and Basque, because she and her brother and sister speak all three of them and so reading those should become natural too.
I have used http://www.wix.com , on its free version, to build it and I think it looks (almost) ok
It has three areas: home, postales (postcards) and cuentame (contact)
The topics are literally about anything remotely interesting, and the funniest thing is that I am enjoying the process of making it and sharing as much as she is…
If any of you were interested, this is where the blog is : Para mis sobrinos
In case you wonder, we have since kept our routine and are very much enjoying sharing a giggle every Tuesday afternoon, and I would recommend anyone to make time for anything that matters to them too… Receiving her first message via the message board made my day!
Photograph by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
Text and blog by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
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