Sparkle Fairy, the Long-Distance Babysitter

April 18, 2012

My daughter's drawing of Sparkle Fairy
I love visiting my hometown, Los Angeles, a few times a year. It’s great to visit my parents, check in with some of my old friends, and visit my favorite Mexican food restaurant, El Gringo. Clearly, it’s a perfect time for my kids to connect with their grandparents; but it’s also an opportunity for me to talk to other grandparents, meaning my parent’s friends.
There’s one grandma we usually seek out for a little chat, and she always gives me a new idea or insight into how grandparents connect with grandkids. She is a decidedly exuberant and dedicated granny. Her light-heartedness and patience for all things silly is addictive to my own kids. A great example is her invitation to my girls to visit and watch her cat do tricks. Not being a cat-person, I was skeptical. But, somehow, she figured out that if she cut a small hole in the corner of a brown paper grocery bag, lured her cat in the bag, then dangled a peacock feather over it, the cat would try to grab the feather through the hole. The result is a little kitty paw popping out erratically from a brown paper bag. It’s so funny. My kids could have watched the cat all morning.
Her latest activity is pure gold. She invented a special character, Sparkle Fairy, that she and her granddaughter go on adventures with over the phone while her parents take a break. To make the long-distance experience even better, she decorated a piece of fabric and sent it to her granddaughter, so she has an image of Sparkle Fairy in her room. She said she used pieces of fabric, a hot glue gun, and lots and lots of ‘stuff kids love,’ like ribbons, buttons, etc.

This is how it works. The parents put the phone on speaker and leave the room, maybe to sit down and have dinner, pay some bills, whatever. Then, the grand-daughter and grandma start a new adventure. The grand-daughter sometimes gets to decide what Sparkle Fairy does next, and grandma makes it happen. And here’s my favorite part. Grandma uses sound effects on her computer to enhance her story. So if Sparkle Fairy stumbles upon a farm, grandma plays a little clip of a squealing pig. And, if grandma goofs and plays a tiger growling, that’s ok too! Here’s one of the sites she uses: http://www.grsites.com/archive/sounds/category/25/?offset=0

I love Sparkle Fairy. I just asked our team of developers if we can include sound effects in our app, DoubleScoop. Wouldn’t it be fun to include noises in stories grandparents and kids are creating for each other? And if I ever have grandkids, I will definitely be inventing a unique character for each one of them. I have no doubt they will never forget it.

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