Greg was born in 1925 and had seen many things in his life, he lived in a very big house all alone, as his wife of over 50 years had past away 2 years ago. He hardly went out and found life moved at a very fast pace and no one seemed to have time to talk. He truly was a lonely man, that was until last September when Josh and Daisy moved next door with their mum and dad. His only contact up till then with others, was when he went to a weekly lunch club at the village hall, apart from that he stayed home or went for a walk along the seafront, as Greg loved the sea.
Greg's first meeting with Daisy and Josh was at the sea front, as Greg loved to sit on the front and look at the sea. During the second world war Greg was a sailor in the navy and continued in the service for a further 15 years. He saw the children approach, with their parents, he recognised them as the family who had moved in next door. Daisy also recognised him and stopped and said "Hello my name is Daisy and over there is my brother Josh, with my mum and dad."
"Hello," replied Greg quietly. Daisy asked him what his name was, he told her, but was still very quiet. He noticed she had a star on her top with a happy face on. Daisy told him it was her mood star, that sometimes she finds it hard to tell people how she feels, so she wears a mood star to let people know. Greg smiled " so I see you are happy today." Daisy giggled and replied " oh Josh and I are always happy when we come to the beach."
"Does that mean you are always happy Daisy?" asked Greg. "Oh no, some days I am unhappy, some days I am sad." replied Daisy. At that point her parents came over and introduced themselves, they spent 10 minutes talking to Greg and then said their goodbyes, as they needed to get home. As Daisy and Josh were leaving, they ran over to Greg and both said "Greg will you be our friend." Greg thought for a moment and said "yes, that would be wonderful."
With that Daisy ran over to her mum and whispered in her ear, Greg saw her mum nod and Daisy came running back and said "Greg would you like to come to tea tomorrow?" Greg said he would love to come, but inside he was nervous, as it had been a long time since he had socialised. With that Daisy ran over to her parents and Josh and Greg watched them walk away. Once again he felt lonely, he did not like feeling like this, he thought about Daisy's mood stars and wondered if he should have them too. He shook his head and said no, they are for children, not for an old fool like me.
When Greg arrived the following afternoon to have tea with his new neighbours, the door was opened by Josh and his parents who welcomed him in, but no Daisy. Greg asked where Daisy was, they told him she was in the garden, so he went out to the garden to say hello to her. There was the garden table laid out for afternoon tea and standing by the table was Daisy in tears and on her top was her sad mood star.
"Daisy what is wrong?" asked Greg. "My friends won't play with me, I feel so lonely." replied Daisy. Greg thought for a moment and asked if Daisy had another sad mood star, Daisy said she had and ran off to her bedroom to get it for Greg. On her return, she gave Greg the sad mood star and he put it on his jacket. "Greg, that's lovely, but you are not sad or crying." said Daisy. "I am crying and sad inside Daisy, so maybe we can help each other." replied Greg.
For the next 30 minutes Greg and Daisy told each other what made them sad, Daisy's parents watched from the window and were so pleased that Daisy had someone to talk to. Daisy was a wonderful child, never any trouble and never wanted to worry her parents, but they knew she was sad, so got her the mood stars. This allowed Daisy to communicate freely without having to say a word, it made Daisy feel she was always included.
Later while everyone was having tea and what a lovely tea it was, Greg felt relaxed and Daisy was smiling. As usual Josh ate far too much cake and soon had a tummy ache, this made Daisy laugh and soon everyone was laughing. Daisy's mum was a teaching assistant at Daisy's school and hearing about Greg's life in the Navy she asked him if he would come in one afternoon to talk to the children. Greg was not sure, until Daisy said " me and mum will go to the lunch club at the village hall and I will tell them about my mood stars." "Well, that's an offer I can't refuse, so yes Daisy I will do it." Replied Greg.
So the day of Greg coming to Daisy's school, in the morning assembly, the head teacher reminded everyone of his visit and what time he was arriving at the main gate. At 2 in the afternoon, Daisy and her mum waited at the gate for Greg, not one of the other children had come to the gate. It was because it was Daisy's idea and they thought she was teacher's pet, that was far from the truth, she was always treated equally. Greg arrived with a suitcase and Daisy was very curious what was in Greg's suitcase. Greg saw Daisy looking, giggled and said " It is my magical suitcase, it changes people, wait and see."
Daisy started to say sorry, how angry she was that no other pupil had turned up, Greg just took hold of her hand and said " sssh, it's okay, show me to your classroom and let's have fun." For some reason that made Daisy giggle and they walked into her classroom, her classmates and friends were quiet, yet polite. Daisy went to sit with the others, but Greg asked her to sit with him.
Greg spent 20 minutes telling the children about his time in the Royal Navy and the war, nothing too scary, but it was informative and Daisy watched as the class was glued to every word Greg said. After 40 minutes Greg asked the class " who do you think is the most brave person and has the most courage in this room? He asked 10 children and they all said "you Greg." Greg shook his head and said " you are all wrong, the most brave person in this room is Daisy." The class went silent and looked confused, "shall i tell you why Daisy is the most brave person here and has the most courage?" As one the class said " Yes Greg tell us."
"I have been here for over an hour now and I have seen how you treat Daisy, yet she comes to school every day and joins in and is part of this class. In spite of how you treat her, she has organised my visit here today. She is my friend and I am very proud to have her as a friend. You all see the mood stars she wears and the one she wears the most is her sad mood star, it's time you all made sure she wears the happy mood star the most. We are going to have a break of 10 minutes and then I will show you what is in my suitcase." said Greg. Daisy's mum took Greg for a coffee, in the next room, leaving the door open, as Greg drank his coffee, he watched the class gather around Daisy and amongst them he saw Daisy raise her arm and in her hand was her happy mood star.
After Greg finished his coffee, he went to his suitcase and started to unpack it, at the beginning of this the children were chatting away, but by the time he had finished, the classroom was quiet. The next 45 minutes the class was glued to Greg's every word. As Daisy's mum had explained to the class at the beginning, this was living history and now they understood totally what she meant. It made them understand what their grandparents went through during the war.
At the end of the talk he asked Daisy to come up and bring her mood stars. He put the mood stars on separate chairs and asked the children to stand by the one they thought he felt while serving during the war. He watched them and was pleased the children were thinking hard about this, asking Daisy what she thought, they talked more and some even stood by a chair. Then they talked some more and finally came to an agreement, Greg heard them say " you do it Daisy." Daisy picked up all the mood stars and put them on one chair and they all stood round the chair. Greg and Daisy's mum stood in amazement and were very proud of the children.
For days afterwards the class was a buzz about Greg and the mood stars, they were very keen to know when Greg was coming back so they could hear more. When Daisy told Greg he was very touched and said yes he would come back. Greg when he was out either shopping or walking, the children in Daisy's class if they saw him. would come and say hello and introduce their parents.
The mood stars were also introduced into the class, in a very simple way, each morning the class stood by the mood star on the wall to reflect how they felt and at the end of the school day they did the same. Daisy's mum put a mood stamp in their day book in the morning and afternoon reflecting their mood. The children took the day book home every day and their parents signed it every night, to say they have seen it.
Two weeks later, it was half term, so Daisy and her mum were going with Greg to his lunch club in the village hall. All the children in Daisy's class were jealous in a nice way, that Daisy was spending time with Greg, but she promised to tell them everything, when she was back at school or sooner. They knocked for Greg at 11.30 and Daisy was so excited. Greg asked if she had bought her mood stars with her and Daisy said yes. Greg said he had told some of the people at the lunch club about them and they were very curious.
Before Daisy would have been quite nervous meeting people, but now she had new found confidence, her mood stars allowed her to be the real Daisy, not judged and encouraged by those around her. The lunch club was founded for the elderly, especially for the lonely and those with declining health. As they entered the village hall, the first thing Daisy noticed, was how quiet it was, the only real noise coming from the kitchen. Daisy whispered to Greg "is it always this quiet Greg?" Yes, sadly," replied Greg. Daisy did no more than stuck her happy mood star on her top and went to every single person, shook their hand and said "Hello I am Daisy."
After a lovely lunch and a great pudding, Daisy loves puddings, it was time for Daisy to talk. Daisy noticed they were still a little quiet, so she decided to tell them about Greg's visit to her school and after 5 minutes everyone was listening very carefully. After she had finished, Greg joined her and said " when I first met Daisy I thought what does an old person need mood stars for, we just get on with it." They all nodded, Greg continued "sometimes we don't want to talk, these mood stars can help us communicate better, instead of sitting in silence and saying nothing.
Two minutes later Daisy and Greg were organising a game, Daisy let 8 of them select a mood star each and they sat in a line, the others had to guess which mood star they had picked. The game started quietly, but within 5 minutes everyone was laughing, especially when it came to Albert and they said there was one mood star missing, the moaning star, everyone laughed. They actually only guessed two right, when the others turned theirs around they were surprised. Greg said " this is what I was saying at our last lunch, we can learn a lot from children and the children want to hear about our history and even our skills.
They then asked Daisy's mum if her and Daisy could stay longer, as they wanted to know more about the mood stars. Daisy's mum said yes of course they would stay. So 2 of the ladies went to the cake shop and bought cakes for afternoon tea. Daisy's mum told them about what she does with her class and the mood stars, what she kept hearing was their generation did not moan and just got on with it. Daisy said " oh no it's not moaning, it's about letting people know how you feel, even if you don't want to talk." While they were having their cake and tea, Daisy asked what mood star they would put by the cakes, all but 2 said the happy one. The other 2 said it would be the scared one, because they would not be able to get up after eating too much, with that everyone giggled.
Then the humour began, about Albert having a moaning mood star and Jack having a permanent sleepy mood star on. This made Greg happy, as this was the first time everyone was engaging, even those who just sat quietly every week. They realised that the mood stars can work for them too and were very happy that Daisy and her mum had come. So it was arranged for some of them to spend an afternoon with the children at school, they were going to show them how to knit, sew a button on, make a cake the old fashion way. For the boys they were going to bring more things from the war and show them some practical skills.
Daisy and her mum left and the next day Greg came round to arrange the afternoon when the lunch club would come to the school. He told them the club continued to chat about it after they left. That they wanted to use the mood stars, because it's such a wonderful way of communicating. That so many of them had the same worries and didn't feel so alone now. Ranging from being shy, to being too scared to ask for help, to being sad and alone. In some cases it helped the person identify how they actually felt and helped others to talk to them about it.
Greg then went onto say there was a real piece of magic from the day, a lady who goes to the lunch club, told them all, that her granddaughter had autism, she was clutching both the shy and scared mood stars when she told the lunch club, something that no one knew until then. She went onto say she had felt useless until today as she could not do anything to help, however she now believed she could help her granddaughter with these mood stars. She explained that the things we all take for granted, are not the same for her granddaughter, that she finds change very difficult and does not understand the unspoken social rules, that are part of every day life. With tears rolling down her cheeks she went on to say " now my granddaughter can use these mood stars to express her feelings, make choices and connect with those around her."
The visit to the school was arranged for the following Thursday, Daisy's mum asked Greg if he would like to come to lunch on Sunday and he said yes he would love to come. It was arranged for Greg to come around at mid day for lunch, but at 1.30 he had not arrived and when they knocked he was not there. So they had lunch and Daisy's parents suggested a walk along the seafront to cheer Daisy up.
As they walked along, Daisy spotted Greg walking alone on the pier. She was surprised to see Greg there, but she was pleased he was okay. She tried to speak to him, but she could see he had his sad and scared mood stars on and he looked very sad. "Why are you sad Greg?" asked Daisy. Greg carried on walking for a few more steps and then stopped and said " You are all lovely people, but I am scared I will be on my own again." Daisy thought about it for a moment and said, "Greg can I change your mood stars?" Greg nodded and she changed his mood stars for silly and happy, they both looked at them and giggled, sometimes you really don't need words.