In the early 2000s, this poster was used to help explain the concept behind Healthy Child Manitoba.
Although no longer current, the poster is still accurate. It illustrates the partnership between government departments to ensure the healthy development of Manitoba children.
I always thought of it as a puzzle, with those jutting out pieces fitting into the concave parts of the next to form a whole that suddenly became a unified picture.
But years later I have come to think of it as a quilt. The topping is all these services stitched together. The backing is the support given by government and community. The fill is our children and families, connected by the services that are available to everyone. The stitching is the common thread throughout.
Although both analogies are appropriate, I prefer the quilt version.
Puzzles are fun and for many they are play, which relates strongly to early childhood. But quilts are warm and can become fuzzy with usage, reminding me of family and community.
A puzzle can be taken apart. It is much more difficult to take a quilt apart.
If you lose a puzzle piece, what used to be fun becomes frustration. It is much harder to lose a quilt.
And often I find that the value of a quilt is directly proportional to its age and usage. The more fraying the better. Frayed puzzle parts, however, do not make for good play.
Analogies are easy; in life, it is not quite so simple. Families are complicated. Communities are complicated.
But what a marvelous quilt we can create when we spend the time and make the effort.
Childhood has a beginning and an end, although the latter is not so well-defined. Some manage to keep their inner child alive much longer than others.
The seasons of our lives come to an end as well. Pre-school becomes school-age. School-age become teenage. Teenage becomes adult. The child may eventually become the parent.
Beginnings and endings could not exist without each other. One flows into the other.
As the late Harry Chapin used to sing:
“All my life’s a circle
Sunrise and sundown
The moon rose through the nighttime
Till the day break comes around.”
Or as poet T.S. Eliot wrote:
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Here’s to the further exploration of quilts and puzzles, partnerships and relationships, parents, children and family.