"Can we play a game?” Andrew asked. So we started playing something called “Granny’s knickers”. This game was new to me. Its basic premise is to not smile while asking each other ridiculous questions, which must always be answered with “Graaaaaaaanny’s knickers”. Questions could include, but are in no way limited to, “What’s on your head?” “What did you have for breakfast?” and the like.
Suffice to say, this got us really tickled, and we didn’t last long playing by the rules.
But it was never really about the game or the rules. It was an opportunity to create space for fun and childlikeness.
I guess that’s what I think most of our work with kids is really about: creating a space of innocence.
I think about my neighbor, Samantha*. Samantha is in her late thirties. From the bits and pieces of her story I’ve gathered, she’s been a victim for, well, her whole life. I can’t even fathom her childhood — the things she’s probably witnessed and endured as a child, no less as an adult.
I’m sure Samantha’s is a story not unlike many of our neighbors’. I often wonder about the number of kids I know whose lives are following the same storyline. I wonder, how many put on a smiling face but endure the unspeakable behind closed doors? And if Samantha had had safe places to be childlike and free, how might her life have been different?
Most of all, I wonder if (and hope that) our creating childlike spaces for them is making a difference.
I hope that these kids will embark on and set in motion a new narrative.
Oh Lord, let it be! Let this be a world in which the innocence of “Granny’s knickers” is the height of humor and entertainment. A world where kids can be kids and bear burdens appropriate to childhood. A world where expressions and gestures of love abound, not words of hatred and acts of abuse.
Oh, Lord, let it be.
*To protect the privacy of this community, Samantha’s name has been changed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Claire Aufhammer is finishing her second year as a member of the Glasgow InnerCHANGE team in Scotland. Her team is committed to bringing hope and transformation among the poor and marginalized in Glasgow. Most days, Claire can be found spending time with primary school kids, helping in a weekly cookery class, or learning in the local garden.