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My puppet JaNee had her own blog for years. We started it during an economic crisis when I was fed up with the negative tone of all the messages I heard. I was tired of constantly hearing that schools had no budgets, that there was no money for training, that we all had to watch our pennies, etc., etc. The whole world seemed to be characterized by shortages, while my world has always been filled with riches that cost so little. That’s how JaNee’s blog came about. It was called “The Ups and Downs of JaNee” and had the subtitle “see the world through the eyes of a hand puppet”. I still use that sentence, by the way😄. When I started to write the blogs, I realized how important building a strong character is for the recognizability of a puppet.

I wrote her a letter

To dress up and introduce the story a bit, JaNee and I wrote a piece about each other. We were the protagonists in our own story, and like any protagonist, we wanted to be introduced. So did we. What struck me when I wrote my piece about JaNee was how much I actually knew about her, how closely I watched her, and how much I had come to love her. For me, JaNee is not just any puppet; she’s my BFF, my buddy. If something’s up with her, I feel it too, and vice versa.

I want to share the story I once wrote about JaNee. I share it with you because I wish you a similar kind of bond with your puppet. The love that arises between you and your puppet, the relationship that forms, permeates everything you do with your puppet, it’s tangible and visible. In this course, I take you into my world and show you some of what’s possible with a hand puppet. How it can enrich not only the lives of children but also your own life.

This is my story:

I know no one like JaNee, no one who is as uncomplicated as she is, at least. And maybe also no one who has so many questions and ideas or who can stand up for herself so clearly. I spend quite a bit of time with her, and it’s never a punishment because JaNee always has something to tell, always wants to know something, and always has something she wants to try out. And then I have to help her because she is, after all, a puppet, and by herself, she can’t do much.

JaNee and I have been friends for a very long time and have experienced quite a few adventures together. I think I know her quite well by now, but still, she continues to surprise me daily with her questions, her actions, and her ‘investigations’. “Where are the birds actually when it’s as cold as today? Are they also sitting somewhere indoors by the heater?” she asked me this morning as we walked through the forest in the biting cold (-9 degrees) and thickly bundled up to walk the dog. She had noticed that there are few birds to be seen now, so where are they? JaNee is concerned about the creatures around her; she can spend hours watching the squirrels in our garden and is always the one who reminds me that the food is gone, and I therefore need to stop by the store. And while I’m there, I might as well buy her new boots because hers are full of mud. She had seen on TV that you could make shapes from sand and thought her boot would also be a good shape. And it was, but a shape with a curve, and then not all the sand comes out she discovered. But she learned something from that; not everything works as you think it will, and because she learned something from it, it was good, right?

That’s entirely how JaNee thinks, her logic is very logical, but reality is not always so, and then it can happen that climbing the tree goes quite easily only to discover that going down is not the same as going up. And what do you do then? JaNee calls me over then, she wants to do everything herself very much, but if it doesn’t work out, then I have to come help, and I think that’s a great quality. Self-reliance is fantastic, but daring to ask questions, daring to push boundaries, daring to make mistakes, and daring to ask questions are too.

JaNee loves being outside, but she doesn’t get bored easily indoors either. She puzzles, builds, crafts, and likes to read; she often dives into her dress-up trunk, has a huge collection of games (so she’s sure she’ll never get bored, she says) and otherwise indulges in all possible research questions that come to her mind. And that often has to be NOW because NOW it’s the most important thing in the world and really the only question that haunts her mind. And it must be answered NOW, otherwise, she can’t sleep, and I don’t want that either, right? That she has to come wake me up because that question in her head will only go to sleep once it gets an answer, and so it’s also in my interest that she finds her answer. Nothing human is strange to JaNee, and if you thought you were dealing with a super well-behaved girl, then I must disappoint you because JaNee also has enough ways and tricks with which she hopes to get her way, and they are almost all effective.

Her best qualities

If I had to make a top 5 of JaNee’s qualities, it would definitely include, in no particular order:

  1. Curious
  2. Assertive
  3. Approachable
  4. Engaged
  5. Creative

A top 5 is too few for JaNee, I notice, because she is also empathetic, investigative, social, sincere, autonomous, enthusiastic, energetic, inspiring, playful, critical, connecting, helpful, reliable, has an eye for detail, and a considerable ability to empathize. And actually, I’m still not done describing her. Yet, I’ll leave it at this because in this blog, you will get to know JaNee better by yourself, and I expect that you will (just like me) fall in love with her. JaNee is JaNee and completely fine as she is; she learns from life while playing and hopes to be an example for many. And believe me, not only children but also adults can learn a lot from her.


I hope that you will have your own story to tell about your puppet in a while, and that you, just like JaNee and me, will become buddies and a team.

If I can, you can do it too, and then you will never want to be without a puppet again and be able to summon the magic of the puppet wherever you are and whenever you want.

With love,

Author

Helen Meurs (helenmeurs.com) is a pioneer in the field of Puppet Power, an independent trainer and developer. She offers online courses, is the lead instructor at the vocational training for puppet coaches, and authored the book ‘The Hand Puppet as a Educational Tool’. Subscribe to her newsletter if you want to know more.