Pen Pals and Picture Pals
Upon returning from the Brands and Bloggers Summit (#BBSummit12) in July, I saw that two of my Facebook/Blogger friends who lived in different states had set up their children as Pen Pals. They were both about the same age as my "oldest" little girl (Princess M, six and three-quarters) and I thought it was a spectacular idea. I remember having a Pen Pal when I was a young girl, and we wrote letters back and forth for almost ten years before losing touch with each other. I talked to one of the moms involved (the amazing Jen Lee Reeves) and she promptly set about playing match-maker for any parents of kids who were interested in having Pen Pals.
Several weeks later, Jen email "introduced" me and another mom (Mrs. O) who lives in Michigan. As we emailed back and forth telling stories of our daughters and getting to know each other, the similarities were uncanny! They both seemed to be interested in the same types of toys, books and activities. I was so excited! Mrs. O and I exchanged pictures of our girls, and told them all about the other one. When I showed Princess M the picture of her new Pen Pal, one of the last things she commented on was that her new friend had one "long" arm and one "short" arm. Her exclamation - "that's totally cool!" - made me proud to be her mother. She was so excited to write her new friend that she sat down immediately and started a letter. I helped her with her spelling - only so that her letter was readable - otherwise I let her write whatever she wanted and how she wanted. It was decorated with crayon drawings before it was very carefully folded and addressed by Princess M, all ready to be mailed.
Mrs. O and I both lamented to each other that our younger girls (both 4) were feeling jealous and left out that the bigger girls got to have a special friend they could write to and they didn't. It didn't seem to matter to either of them that they couldn't read or write yet! Hmmm . . . . what to do??? So I came up with Picture Pals!!! They little girls could color each other pictures and mail them back and forth just like the big girls sent letters. Once they both got to a place that they could read and write, it would evolve in to Pen Pals! Mrs. O thought it was a fabulous idea, and we were both okay with using an additional stamp and envelope. Princess K set about picking out just the right picture from her Bubble Guppies coloring book and got to work!
So now both of my daughters have new friends that they can communicate with the "old fashion" way. Pen to paper. Stamps and envelopes. Waiting anxiously by the mailbox to see if today is the day that they get a letter. When they get bigger and don't need the lines to write, I can get them both pretty stationary to write their letters with. I still love receiving handwritten things in the mail - thank you's, birthday cards, whatever it may be. Just knowing that someone took the time to actually WRITE it down and go through the process of mailing it (when email, texting, and other social media options are available for instant connections) makes me feel special and important. I hope they get that feeling too!
Thank you to MJ Tam and Jen Lee Reeves for the inspiration, and to Jen for coordinating the Pen Pals match-up! You can find MJ on Twitter at @MJTam, Jen on Twitter at @JenLeeReeves and @BornJustRight, and at her blog Born Just Right
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