A DIFFERENT WANDERLUST: Flat Travels

(upper left):  Pastor Amy Truhe, Schere Memorial Lutheran Church

(upper right):   Marylin Warner, Mary Shepherd and Flat Grace         (lower left): Real Grace’s mom, Molly

The entrance to Ft. Scott’s #1 National Cemetery ~         

(First, a brief explanation about the original FLAT STANLEY by Jeff Brown, published in 1964.  In the popular children’s book, Characters Stanley Lambchop and his brother Arthur are given a bulletin board, but during the night it falls from the wall and flattens Stanley as he sleeps.

He makes the most of his altered state, sliding under the doors of locked rooms, being used as a kite by his brother, etc.  The BIG advantage, though, is Stanley can visit friends by being mailed in an envelope.  The FLAT STANLEY PROJECT that evolved from the books connected students with other schools, towns/cities, states and countries.  In 2005, more than 6,500 classes from 48 countries took part in the project, sending their crayon-colored paper dolls on adventures. 

In 1999, when our daughter Molly was student teaching, her 2nd grade class participated in the project, and we took pictures of Flat Stanley in Colorado for her students. Now, more than a dozen years later, Molly’s daughter continues the tradition…)

Dear Mom,

Wow! This was a different visit, wasn’t it? At first you were confused by the “Flat Grace” paper doll I brought with me to Ft. Scott, but soon you rallied. Once you understood that your 8-year-old great-granddaughter, Grace, had made a paper doll of herself as part of her 3rd grade project, you joined in the fun.

When Flat Grace posed with us in your apartment, you laughed and hugged her. She went on to pose with other nice people, and the pictures will all be used in Real Grace’s final report on the project.

As we looked at the pictures on my digital camera, I realized Flat Grace had reinforced some of your lessons:

~ NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A SMILE.

Some might think it’s a silly waste of time, posing for a picture with a paper doll, but I didn’t encounter even one critical person.  I approached people in the spirit of good-natured fun, the way I’d watched you do numerous times when I was a child. I smiled and described the 3rd-grade class project in Chapman, almost two hundred miles away, and everyone responded with good-natured enthusiasm.

~ EVERYONE HAS A STORY. LISTEN.

When I asked random people to pose with Flat Grace for the project, many remembered the original novel and shared their stories: their children or neighbor kids, mailing their Flat Stanleys on adventures; the last-minute taped repairs when Stanley lost an arm or leg; the excitement on young faces when envelopes arrived in the mail, returning the paper dolls with pictures or journals of the adventures.

You and Dad both taught me this, Mom: when people meet and share their experiences–when they listen and laugh and respond–something magical happens.

~ ENCOURAGING A CHILD IS TIME WELL SPENT. Always.

Admiring art efforts, pitching for batting practice, listening to piano scales or recitation of multiplication tables or a song sung slightly off key…or posing for a picture with a child’s flat paper doll on an adventure…is time well spent.

It’s also double the fun when you do it with someone you love, Mom, and you’re very much loved.

Marylin

Pictures below:  Grace’s Grandpa and dog Maggie with Flat Grace;  a wonderful park ranger at the Historic Fort Scott site, who stepped up and helped hold Flat Grace in the wind; the really nice young man at the Dairy Queen window who said, “Sure, I’d be glad to help.”  (Thanks to many others–Grace’s great- Uncle David, Mom’s caregiver Martha, and many other volunteers–I messed up and couldn’t get all your pictures in here, but they will be included in Grace’s 3rd-grade project.)

 
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17 Comments

Filed under friends, importance of doing good things, lessons about life, memories for grandchildren

17 responses to “A DIFFERENT WANDERLUST: Flat Travels

  1. This is the most wonderful “flat” travel I have seen. Thanks for this story.

  2. I love it! (my fave is the guy in the Dairy Queen–what a sport).

    • Years ago Molly was going through my high school yearbooks and reading the comments. Some wise-cracking guy (typical teen male) wrote a comment about how he’d never forget the incident at the Dairy Queen. There was no incident, of course, and he probably wrote that same line in almost every girl’s yearbook. But now Molly will take up the banner and tease me again. Maybe I’ll tell her that this guy in the picture is the son (or grandson?) of the original incident guy. Or not.
      You just can’t run from some stories… ;=)

  3. Jim

    Cool idea; good lessons! Wish they would have had Flat-Stanley project when I was a 3rd grader. I would have sent Flat-Jimmy from Colorado to Ebbets Field to meet Duke Snider, Roy Campanella and, of course, Rhubarb the fabled, magical cat! Hey, also love the pic of Flat-Grace with that sweet collie dog and handsome Grandpa!

    • Oo-Oo, now I want a cat to name Rhubarb!
      I, too, love the pic of Flat Grace with the absolutely wonderful dog, Maggie, and especially the dapper Grandpa! That is one charming Grandpa, and Mor Mor knows!

  4. Nancy Brummett

    Too cute! And can’t we all use more grace in the world–flat or otherwise! 😉

  5. Grace will love it, Nancy! She’ll probably want to make a bumper sticker for her bike–“We need more GRACE in the world, flat or otherwise!”
    But she’s growing up. On one of our visits we went to her church, and the hymn was “Amazing Grace.” I hugged her and whispered, “You’re Mor Mor’s amazing Grace.” She used to smile and cuddle whenever I’d say that. This time she gave me a serious look and announced, “There’s a difference between me and that kind of grace.”
    Sigh. But I don’t care what she says, she’ll always be my Amazing Grace!

  6. Educator@heart

    This is afabulous idea for children to learn about different places, when schools no longer have field trips. I particulary like the fact that you incorporated the Great-Grandmother of the sweet young lady. You can tell by the pictures, that the Great-Grandmother truly did enjoy the experience, once she knew what was going on! Every child should be lucky enough to have a grandmother like you that makes even a simple school project into a huge deal. I hope that your grandaughter knows how lucky she is to have you, and I really hope that you are teaching her to write as well as you do! You are equally phenomenal as a grandmother as well as a writer…do you have any other awesome talents…..being a mother?wife? teacher?

    • Flat Grace was a fun way for the grandparents to get involved with the kids’ school projects, and you’re right, it was very special that even the great-grandmother could enjoy it, too. As an Educator@heart, you know that in the classroom or on “adventures” with a child’s paper doll, the adults usually learn as much as the children. This was great fun!

  7. amy truhe

    Hi, Marilyn! Your post/blog is wonderful! Writing to your mom is not only a tribute to her but a gentle reminder to us all of the values we share. And you have a lovely dog! Thanks for posting this and even putting my pic on here! Grace and Gannon, Molly and Trevor are truly blessed to have you as parents and grandparents… I hope you get to take Flat Grace many more places! God b less you! 🙂

    • Thank you, Amy. We’re still smiling at the way you picked up the little girl running down the aisle last Sunday and held her in your arms as you went on with the scriptures. You’re a marvel, and we appreciate all you do for the children, including Grace and Gannon. Flat Grace thanks you, too!

  8. Gannon - Grandson

    Hi Mormor it is Gannon right now sending at my house you know red house. I wanted to tell you how well I liked your blog about Flat Stanley – I mean Flat Grace. my favorite thing was my mom was holding flat grace in her wrestling sweatshirt.good job mormor

    • Hi, Ganno-banno, this is your Mor Mor. I’m so glad you liked the blog about Flat Grace. If you get the same teacher next year, Grandpa and Mor Mor will take your Flat Gannon on an adventure, too.
      I love you, sweetheart, sooooo much.

  9. Grace - Grandaughter

    Thank you for participating in the Flat Stanley! I LOVE YOU! Gannon loves peanuts! LOVE GRACE

  10. Hi, Grace-a-roni! We had lots of fun with your project. And guess what? Grandpa and I will be there for your Flat Stanley program, too. We wouldn’t miss it!
    Love and hugs and kisses! Mor Mor

  11. alicia galliart

    i really like this blog. I would like to try this with my son i have heard of flat stanley before bit never actually seen one. I am very encoureged to pass this on to others.

    • It really is fun, Alicia, and your son will get a kick out of it. You might also go to the “February Poetry Contest” blog at https://warnerwriting.wordpress.com I’ve heard from two other mothers who are going to write poems with their children and enter
      in the contest. There’s no entry fee, but there are cash prizes. And kids actually like to write fun poems. Good luck with the Flat Stanley project. Marylin

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