Auntie’s special sauce: Brain Frames

Travel journals. They are a great way to capture memories of zipping all over the world with friends and family.

Unless you’re a 10 year old who hates writing.

Everyone, meet my nephew.

He and I recently spent the day together during our family holiday trip to NYC. We climbed around on The Intrepid aircraft carrier, ate at Christmas Markets scattered around the city, shopped for comics at Forbidden Planet, and flew on broomsticks at the Harry Potter virtual experience.

When we got back to the hotel, my sister handed him his travel journal. He:

  • Asked for a snack.
  • Went to the bathroom.
  • Asked to watch a video.
  • Begged to do his journal later.
  • Asked for a drink.

When he asked to go see if my parents needed help with anything in their hotel room, my sister pointed to his journal on the desk and gave him “the look.”  He read it correctly as knock it off and get to work.  That’s when the tears started.

“But Mum…”

My sister gave me a look.  I read it correctly as time to step in, Auntie!

I slid into the seat next to him. Before I could even ask, he mumbled between sniffles, “We did a lot and it’s hard to think about! I don’t know what to write! I don’t remember. Mum said I have to have at least 4 sentences and a picture, but I don’t know… there’s so much!”

Thankfully, I speak fluent nephew. His complaints were code for I have way too many ideas in my head. I can’t turn them into four sentences and a picture.

I quipped, “Hey duders, what does Auntie do for a living?” 

He sniffled some more then answered, “Teach those things.”

“What things?” I pressed.

“Those Brain things.” he muttered.

“Brain Frames. Yup. Ever seen one?”

He gave me a look. I correctly read it as seriously, Auntie? You’ve been making me use them even before I could read!

When I asked him if he thought there was a Brain Frame that could help him get his ideas out of his head, he sighed and thought for a moment. Then like magic, the dots connected and his spine straightened. “Can I use a Telling Frame?”

“I don’t know,” I answered. “Can you?”

He gave me another look (he must get that from my sister) and bent over his journal. Within minutes, bits and pieces of our day peppered his paper. Each lived within its own shape; together they made a pattern. I asked him to count how many ideas he put in his Brain Frame. His face lit up. There were 13 of them. “I guess I remembered some stuff!”

“I guess you did! What are you going to do now?”

“I’m gonna pick four ideas and make up sentences about them. The other ideas I can put in my picture.” 

And he did.

  • No tears.
  • No excuses.
  • No requests for delays or snacks.

I’m not saying that Brain Frames saved our family vacation. I’m just saying that the right tool at the right time can do wonders for nephews, their self-esteem, and their travel journals.