Saturday, July 25, 2015

Allowing Creativity

I bought my sons some post-it notes shaped like each of their first initials at Walgreens for 99 cents. I envisioned them writing notes to each other or drawing pictures and sticking them to the fridge. I did not expect them to become entirely new objects due to the boys' inventive imagination.

"Don't touch the BOMBS!" my oldest shouted. I looked up from the dishes to see the notes stuck all over the toddler slide that somehow had made its way into our living room. My three year old was perched at the top with a giant smile on his face. 
"Will I blow up if it hit them?!" he asked excitedly.
"Yeah! You'll go BOOM!" my oldest replied.
My three year old fell into a fit of giggles at the prospect of being blown to smithereens and made his way down the slide. He detonated several post-it note bombs my throwing them in the air and making all the right sound effects.
"Now it's my turn to get blown up!!" my oldest yelled as he ran toward the slide ladder.

This game morphed into a new one - An obstacle course that they had to get through without detonating the bombs. They crumpled up post-it after post-it and sprinkled them all over the house. The same house I had just straightened up 20 minutes beforehand. I started to regret my decision to give them so much leeway.  My husband was coming home in a few minutes and I try to pretend like we keep the house clean all day (although I'm pretty sure he's on to me due to the fact that it's never actually clean when he gets home...) I asked the boys to start picking up the post-its.

"I have an idea! Let's use the slide like a shoot and then we can pour them down into a container. Dump 'em all on the slide, Drew!" 
They scrambled around the house and invented a smart system of getting all the notes into a Ziploc so that they could play the game again later.

I told my mom about their creativity. "I couldn't believe how many ideas they had with 99 cent post it notes. So creative."
"That's because they are allowed to be creative," she said, "even when it's messy."

It wasn't easy to let them be creative. I would be lying if I said it didn't give me some anxiety to watch them spread one hundred post-it notes all over my house. And yet, my mom's comment gave me a new perspective. She wasn't focused on the short term mess. She was focused on the end result of giving children the opportunity to be creative. If they are allowed to get messy, they may become great problem solvers and out of the box thinkers. They won't be afraid to try new things because they will always be able to come up with an alternative if the first plan doesn't work. We have the opportunity to raise the next generation of great minds. Let's give them to chance to develop it, even if it's messy.

What creative pursuits give you anxiety because of the mess? Let them go a bit further today and see what happens. Focus on the beauty of their mind rather than the ugliness of the mess.

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