Trying Everything (and Not Giving Up!)

I wish I could tell you that I’ve never given up, but I can’t. I have a feeling I’m in some very good company in this. I also have to admit that I’m sometimes reluctant to try new things. And as the former nanny of a risk-taking little boy, I can honestly say that I’ve been around someone who isn’t afraid to try anything and everything. No matter how high the monkey bars or how slippery the slide. And, as much as that daredevil approach to life scares me, I admire it. So I wanted to emphasize to little ones that they shouldn’t be afraid to try things, and they shouldn’t give up if they can’t master something right away.

To help make the point, I used my own experience as a little girl who used her allowance to buy her first pair of roller skates and then spent a considerable amount of time on her rear end as she tried to stay upright. But, of course, I didn’t give up, and not just because those skates cost me five dollars of hard-earned allowance and I wanted to get my money’s worth. No, I really wanted to master the art of roller skating so I could skate with my friends. And it didn’t take very long for me to do just that. I like to use some kind of visuals when I present, and since I didn’t have any roller skates, I set up my Victorian ice skater display my parents gave me. By the way, ice skating was something I truly never mastered; my ankles couldn’t take it.

To help make the point that one shouldn’t be afraid to try new things, I used the lyrics to the song ‘Try Everything’ from the excellent movie ‘Zootopia.’ I love the lyrics to this one that include lines like ‘Birds don’t just fly/they fall down and get up’ and ‘nobody learns without getting it wrong.’ But my favorite line is ‘I wanna try even though I could fail.’ I used the example of my attempts at hoola hooping, which I still haven’t mastered. I did promise in the episode, though, that if I eventually succeed in being able to hoola hoop, I will demonstrate it in an upcoming episode. No pressure, right?

I wrote a poem about my roller skating experience and another about not giving up, and I was good to go with this episode. It was almost a way to redeem myself. As a nanny, I really held Cooper back, I think. I kept him off playground equipment that scared me. I fretted and worried and didn’t let him take risks that kids really need to take to spread their wings and see what they can do. I let my own fears control Cooper, and I’ve always regretted it even though my motives were pure. So I think a child’s—or anyone’s—resolve to ‘try everything’ is closer to the attitude we all should have. And once we try it, we shouldn’t give up on it too easily. Like the song says, we need to try even though we could fail. After all, failing at something isn’t the worst thing that could happen; never trying because of fear would be the bigger failure.


I’m a huge believer in two things: the wisdom and potential of our children and the importance of poetry and imagination in their lives and development. My teaching background is at the high school level, but my methods in the classroom ran high in interaction and whimsy, at least as much whimsy as preparation for state testing allowed. I have four young grandchildren, and I nannied a little boy for over four years from infancy, so I like to think I know children pretty well. And I used poetry to teach and inspire no matter what ages I was called to teach. Poetry takes very big ideas and boils them down to nuggets of wisdom more easily understood. And then there’s the rhyme, such a valuable asset to pre-reading and a great hook to pull the little ones into the poetry itself. The rhythm, cadence, and yes, the rhyme, all have value for kids. Even if the full meaning of the words eludes them a little, there is value in what they do process. I have written and published two books of essays and poetry for teachers, but my greater joy came in writing poetry for children. I began a book of children’s poetry the day my first grandchild Samantha was born and fourteen years later I continue to add to it. I entitled it A Duck in the Sky, which comes from a discussion we had with Sam when she was just a toddler. We were talking about the meaning of life and Sam assured us that the meaning of life was, in fact, a duck in the sky. Fair enough, and a very good title. I never published my children’s book, although that will happen. But in the meantime came Covid and quarantine. I wanted to contribute something, to help entertain young children stuck at home, even if for only a few minutes at a time. So GG Sprinkles was born, someone who reads poetry and entertains with props, demonstrations, etc. Our videos began on a GG Sprinkles Facebook page, and shortly after that became a GG Sprinkles YouTube channel. So we now have quite a few videos available and I continue to write poetry. I have learned a great deal about a lot of topics: fairies, zebras, angels, octopuses, birds, superheroes, blanket forts, dragons, space, buried treasure, planets, burping, puppets, trains, unicorns, kites, magic wands, and so much more. It has been a pure joy to do this for the kids. And, of course, I’m learning so much along the way. We intend to keep the videos coming as long as the poetry comes and the kids and parents are interested. We’d be delighted to have you come along with us as we explore new topics poetically and just have some fun. GG Sprinkles welcomes you to any of the videos you’d like to watch and further thoughts here on my blog. Enjoy!

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