By Sally Hall
I want to talk about sharing our stories with the people around us. At Dacres Wood we don’t live in a vacuum. Every member of the community has a home life, things that they think about, issues they are grappling with, and things that they like to spend their time doing outside of our three days in the reserve. When we come together at Dacres Wood, we have lots of stories to tell. One child has a little baby brother, another just returned from holidays in Spain, some go to a pottery group once a week, others to Lego Robotics. Rowan has a new roommate, our intern Carlotta teaches dance, I’m learning to row… Sometimes we want to share our stories with others, sometimes we don’t know how. Or we might be so busy in the flow of the day that there’s little opportunity for sharing with the whole group. Sometimes we just want to tell those closest to us, and sometimes we want to share with everyone a part of ourselves that we’re really proud of.
This term after the Christmas holidays we decided to hold a show-and-tell. We’ve done show-and-tells before with varying levels of interest. This time was different though! This time we agreed to hold show-and-tell at lunchtime to avoid breaking up the day too much, so that the group would still get lots of time for play. As we slurped our hot soup, the show-and-tell had a captive audience, and it was just the right opportunity for children and adults alike to share a little slice of their life outside of Dacres Wood.
E showed the group his spy eyeglass that lets him see around corners. A brought in his favourite Hedwig Owl. T showed her trumpet and some favourite toys. Rowan and F shared a postcard F sent to her from Carlsbad, and a photo of him in that same spot. C brought in some soft toys from home that she wanted to donate to Dacres Wood. C brought in an old halfpenny coin that he had found. Carlotta presented her boat necklace which a friend had made for her and shared her story growing up sailing on the coast in Germany. I shared my photos from my trip to Kenya and all the wild animals I saw on safari.
As we went around the circle and listened to the stories, it felt like something was starting to shift in the atmosphere. A feeling of shared experience, of knowing and understanding each other a little better. Such a simple activity was sparking questions and discussions, and people finding common ground that they never knew they had. I certainly felt the shift, and interestingly throughout the next few weeks we found more and more opportunities to share stories: in the meeting, at lunchtimes, and simply during the flow of the day.
Sometimes as adults, we close ourselves off from children in order to protect them, or because we think that they might not be interested in what interests us. But sharing stories can create bonds of trust, and help us all to understand one another better. It can help build community, strengthen relationships, and learn from one another. It sets the scene and helps people to support each other when we’re sad or unwell, and celebrate with us when we’re happy. So here’s to many more show-and-tells and opportunities for sharing our stories.