I’m being played by Helen

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A hand puppet needs someone else’s hands and voice to come to life, so someone you play and with me those are Helen’s hands. Helen is not my mother because a puppet is not born, no, Helen is my friend, she is like a mother to me, that is.

Helen chose me from all the puppet out there to become her puppet, I thought it was fine, didn’t know her at all and didn’t know if I would like it with her, but I know that now: I like it with her and we became close friends. I think I’m lucky with her.  I sometimes hear stories of other puppets, puppets who tell me that they’ve been sitting on a closet (or worse, in a closet or in a bag) for months and just staring around a bit, never once say something and never get caught. Puppets to be beautiful, but that’s not what a puppet wants huh. If you want something to look at you just have to buy a statue or something, but not a hand puppet because a hand puppet wants to be played, that’s what it’s made for, not just to sit on top of a closet. So I don’t sit on top of a closet, I am played with and a lot too because Helen always says “a puppet must be able to experience adventures, must be able to explore, must be able to push boundaries, practice with new things, ask questions and make plans and you can’t do that if you can only sit on top of a closet.”

I will first tell you about Helen because she is so important to me, she is my friend and also the person I live with. Helen used to be a teacher, you know, a teacher at a school. And there she taught children, young children and older children. She always used a hand puppet, not only because she liked it, but also because she had discovered that children told more to a puppet than to her. Not because they were afraid of her or something, but mainly because a hand puppet is seen more as a friend by children and a teacher mainly belongs to ‘the grown-ups’ and ‘grown-ups’ often want a lot from a child, find it important that you perform well, behave well, are disappointed when you make too many mistakes, say something about it when you are thumbing or picking your nose again and find it necessary to tap your fingers about all those things. They don’t do that because they hate you, but mainly because they love you and want the best for you. You probably know it and although it is of course very nice that these grown-ups love you, it is still quite irritating that they expect so much from you. As a child it is sometimes very wise not to show everything about yourself or just tell everything because before you know it you will have to do something with it.

Children told a hand puppet all those things Helen discovered, and so it became important for her to investigate what caused it. What did that puppet have that she didn’t?

I will tell you later what she has discovered, that will become clear. For now, the main thing is that Helen became so fascinated by the phenomenon of ‘hand puppet’ that she wanted much more with it and has been puppet for more than 25 years now and converting it into practical working methods. Because a puppet wants to be played, isn’t it, that’s what it’s made for. In 2004 she stopped being a teacher and she started working with hand puppets , she became ‘director’, although she never uses that word herself, director of handpop.nl and she has collected around her many different puppets. Puppet sthat you can do something with, puppets that need to be brought to life and that can be used to help children discover themselves and the world around them.

And so I am her puppet , I am the one who tries everything, who shows everything and who has to show up everywhere to show what you can do with a puppet.  I am not her child, I am also not a small version of herself, I am just JaNee and I am her bridge to the childlike experience.

Regards, JaNee

I'm JaNee and I'm Helen's puppet. I assist her, give examples and am the embodiment of her vision of working with a hand puppet as a tool. I'm curious, stubborn, fond of books, full of plans and regularly I make a mistake of judgement of my ability. But yeah, pretty human right?

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