021219_coastal people

Artist Cathie Parmalee, left, stands with her daughter-in-law and author Rebecca Parmalee. Together, they published ‘The Thankful Fairy,’ a children’s book.

Rebecca Parmalee has always had a special place in her heart for children. It’s the reason she was drawn to a career in teaching.

For 15 years, Parmalee has guided little minds at Oglethorpe Point Elementary School on St. Simons Island. Of course, that doesn’t end at the end of the day. As a mother of three, Parmalee is actually giving lessons around the clock.

But the teaching isn’t just one way. In fact, the children in her life teach her a great deal about what is most important. Gratitude, for instance, is at the top of their list.

“As my daughter got older, we started having this time at the end of the day where we would talk about something great that happened in our day ... and something that we might need to fix,” she said.

It’s something that Parmalee and her family have continued as their household grew to include two other little ones. And, even though they’re young, the concept of being thankful is one that is visited daily.

“We consciously have these conversations about what we’re thankful for ... I think it’s really important, especially considering how much ‘bad stuff’ happens around us,” she said. “I think it’s important to focus on teaching kids early on to focus on the good in their lives ... it’s really enriched our family.”

It’s something that Parmalee wanted to share with others. And one day, as she watched her daughter flit around like a little fairy, the idea struck her.

“My mother-in-law (Cathie Parmalee) is an artist, and we were watching Finley dance around one day and it just sparked the idea for (the book) ‘Thankful Fairy,’” she said. “We wanted families, not just children, to consciously look at their day and what they were thankful for.”

It took three years for the concept to take form. Rebecca tackled the rhyming text, drawing on real-life scenarios from her family’s life, while Cathie provided the artwork. Their hard work paid off, and the duo is currently looking forward to their official release party. That will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at The Greenhouse on St. Simons Island.

Naturally, Parmalee said, it will include plenty of ‘thankful’ themed activities for children.

“We’re really grateful to the girls at The Vine for letting us have it at their Greenhouse. We’re going to have a little carnival of things ... we’re thinking of it as a ‘thankful experience.’ We will have a thankful graffiti wall, where kids can write their names and what they’re thankful for,” she said.

“There will be a thankful dance party, Cathie is going to be doing a huge painting with ‘Thankful’ written in gold at the top and all of the kids can paint on the canvas.”

The artwork will later be donated to the pediatric ward of the hospital. Older children will offer face painting, and photos will be taken. Children will even be able to dress as their own version of ‘thankful fairies.’

“Lindsey Stewart will be taking the fairy pictures, and we’ll have props,” Parmalee said. “The boys can hold swords, and the girls can have their cute fairy wings. There will also be a space to register for The Greenhouse’s summer camp, Sprout, which fills up fast.”

Rebecca and Cathie will also be selling and signing their books. Copies will also be available online for those not able to attend. Their website is thankfulfairy.com.

“We’ve been doing local deliveries with the kids because I haven’t wanted to make anyone pay shipping ... they’ve just be using Vimeo to send $5,” Parmalee said with a laugh. “We’re planning to have places for pick-up. That’s what we’re working on now.”

Of course, Parmalee is less concerned about sales and more focused on what the book represents. She’s hopeful that it will help spark more mindfulness among families.

“I have a friend who has kids in high school but they sit around the dinner table once a week to write down their thankful thoughts, and they go around the table and talk about it, which is great,” she said.

“I know the whole experience has made me more mindful of the things to be thankful for. There’s a lot of negative in the world, and it can be easy to focus on that, but it’s really important to teach this next generation about all of the positives that make the world such a beautiful place.”

Coastal People appears Tuesdays. Contact Lindsey Adkison at ladkison@thebrunswicknews.com or at 265-8320, ext. 346 to suggest a person for a column.

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