Friday, January 16, 2015

Chit Chat


Julia said...

I love this! I've had my father roll up yarn balls for me--it's a task that needs to get done (I end up doing it otherwise), it sometimes has some interest (tangles!), and it's got the visual/tangible start-end points too, as well as the side benefits you've mentioned (I've heard some yarn people say that handling wool helps keep their hands from getting dry?). It's also a somewhat fine motor skill? Convergent evolution!

In a vaguely similar vein I've also tried having him make sock balls (he'll forget what he's doing and the last time seemed to forget a necessary step which I didn't know because HE'S the one who makes great sock balls!), stir things for cooking (he'll stop stirring, not be sure what he was doing or if it needs more stirring), calendar collating (he was actually really spot on doing this in a team-work way and caught a couple of mess-ups of mine--plus he liked being the boss!). Another one I've thought about trying is sorting stuff (maybe screws and nails for the men in your group? buttons for everyone? alphabetizing?). Basically anything where what-is-done gives the doer clues as to what-doer-needs-to-do-next.

I also listen for the kinds of tasks/chores he was given as a kid. While I have the advantage of decades of his stories, there's some universality to basic chores and it's probably possible to guess into those (or use some of those as an entry point into finding out more specifics).

Taking a cue from my own childhood, I also will give my father very important "hold this" tasks when I am working on something and could use a third hand. Sometimes he doesn't want to engage and sets it down and picks up a book instead, but other times it gets him more involved and he'll start being a partner in working on the project, with solutions, etc. That can be nice because it doesn't set up cognitive expectations for him that he might not be up to handling, but he can also conveniently forget that he's not the teacher overseeing me. :) That's more one-on-one than you do.

The most successful similar one was pen testing at Thrift Store. In case I didn't tell you about it, I gave him a huge bag to sort into good and bad. He did keep forgetting which of his piles was which (easily solved by signs in the future), but he also knew he kept forgetting and when I returned to him, he had a method for me to efficiently double-check his work just in case (short term memory gone, smart problem solving still there!).

Yes, maybe not as "fun" as ball games, but I do think it's really important for people to feel like they are able to contribute back to the people around them.

I hear you on the intangibles of essentially being part of a long death process. But then again, that's what we're all in. What you're doing is just at the last frontiers of it--how do we create meaningful life for those at the margins. And regardless of the privilege that your participants have had, what you learn and discuss helps us move forwards for everyone! I'm so glad you're sharing it!

Fresca said...

Hey, Julia!
I love hearing the things you and your father do, and how you understand why certain things might work. Like, "anything where what-is-done gives the doer clues as to what-doer-needs-to-do-next".
So winding yarn is perfect.

Pen testing is a little harder, but an awesome idea:
I should take in all the pens from the Thrift Store and have people test them (anyone could do it, and then the next person, and the next one, and so on).

Sorting is really popular---I like it myself, and I definitely want to discover and do more things where the person can "start being a partner in working on the project, with solutions, etc."
That's the best.

Sometimes, for instance, I've asked people to take my photo after I've been photographing them doing some activity. I'd like to do more of that, even though (or even because) the photos are often quite sideways. :)

And sometimes they really are the leader--I placed a baby-bib pattern on a piece of cloth for a woman to cut out.

"That's not right," she said, and turned the pattern around.

I was baffled, then I saw that if she'd cut it the way I'd placed it, the cute doggies on the fabric would have been upside-down on the bib!
Whoops. My bad.

You got it, though---you can do more one-on-one things than I usually can do, and that's frustrating.
on the other hand, sometimes people do really well in groups. The other day I set up a game of "four square"--that's what I call it though usually it's more than four people, and they form a circle not a square, and everyone's seated, not standing, and there's no competition, but the basic idea is the same:
to bounce a ball to another player.

When the ball goes way out of bounds, I retrieve it (so I get quite a workout because that happens a lot).
The other day, though, after a few minutes, someone needed help in the other room, so I left, thinking maybe the game would wind down without me.
Not at all.
I came back several minutes later and they were all laughing and playing on without me. I don't know who, but some mobile person must have been retrieving the ball.

Heh, yep, that's my work---the long death process, the final frontier we're all approaching.
(Star Trek quote, you know? "Space, the final frontier.")

It's really good to be able to talk about it--what works, what doesn't, so thanks for that!

Zhoen said...

If you can find some lacrosse sticks, might make the ball chasing easier, says the sore back.

Fresca said...

ZHOEN---There's an idea---too much stooping hurts my weak spot--my knees.