Did you ever have an International Penpal? Hi, let me introduce myself – my name is Lisa Devereaux from all the way down under in Australia. I am also a mum to 4-year-old twin girls. We live in Queensland – the Sunshine State of Australia. I have always been a letter writer and diary enthusiast so when I started my first blog in 2008 it was a natural progression of creativity. When I saw the opportunity to write a blog post with a blogger over in the UK for the International Blog Swap Day, I was instantly transformed to when I was 8 years old and excitedly writing to my new UK penpals. Now I am a mum and almost 20 years later, I occasionally wonder if kids will ever know the fun it was to receive letters and share pretty stationary and photos. So I opened up my box of memories and pulled out my stack of old letters and randomly read each one to remember my UK school friends who I never met and lost track of over the teenage years and wondered briefly if I would look them up on Facebook instead or just leave it be with the passage of time.
How do you inspire your kids to write? One day I would love to share with my daughters of a time before word-processing and the Internet. Where couples would write love letters, parents would receive distant letters from their children and little girls would have pen pals. When I was 8 years old, the Australia Expo 1988 rolled into Brisbane. In the Australia Post pavilion there was a computer pen pal matching service. “Did you want a girl or a boy, what age group, country and interests?” Out popped a little card to announce your new international penpal friend. I love everything about the UK (my family and I had lived in Cambridge when I was in kindergarten) so out popped 3 English penpals.
For about 5 years these international letters chatted about school, holidays, what we got for our birthdays, teachers and favourite classes and pop singers. Enclosed in pretty stationery were drawings, postcards, photos, stickers and I even found perfumed stained tissues. It was a time where there were no talk of boys but writings about best friends and siblings and what Babysitter Club was your favourite book. I remember those international letters that could be folded into envelopes and stamps that you licked to stick and collected.
Facebook arrived in my twenties and now with the full-blown social media competition I do sometimes get a little afraid of the world my girls are growing into. Kids have smart phones with access to everything and I am learning to be more aware of what I can do as a parent to protect them from the new ways to communicate and share their lives, interests, photos and friends. But amongst all this I hope I can show them a love for reading and writing. I want to be a mum who continues to take them to the library and to spend ages walking around bookstores. I want them to write in diaries and learn how to post a letter. Which reminds me I read a story recently of a whole generation of kids out there who honestly do not know how to post a letter! I want to find pretty stationery again and lovely pens to scrawl with. I would love to give them secret diaries, with little locks where they can hide under their beds. It would be so nice to have letters arrive that were not bills and bank statements.
Finally I wonder where my penpals are and if they kept any of my letters as well as I have kept their snippets of their lives. So I refold the pages once again and insert them back into their envelopes. I stack them back and return them to their plastic box. One day my grandchildren may find them and look in wonder at what little girls chatted about in the 1980’s and I hope the fun and innocence still remains to be shared and is not so much different to the little girls in the future.
Lots of love
P.S. Please write back soon! xoxox
What an absolutely lovely letter from Lisa Devereaux of The Last Degree. This post was brought to you courtesy of International Blog Sway day, arranged by Tots100 and Digital Australia(?) and there are lots more swaps going on around the blogosphere – check out the linky here.