Thursday, January 10, 2008


Kids Jack's age are among the most creative, imaginitive people on Earth. Isn't it sad the way we systematically kill it by trying to tell them what's "right"? Two recent examples come to mind.

Jack and I were at Festival of Trees, enjoying the kids' craft area. Jack was making an ornament by stringing beads onto a pipe cleaner, which were then twisted into a circle. The sample the lady showed alternated red and green beads, but naturally Jack had no interest in doing that. He put the beads on however he felt like it, and I saw absolutely no reason to stop him. The craft lady commented that he was the first kid she'd seen who didn't follow the pattern.

I thought that was so sad.

Either Jack is the only kid out there who dared to do anything different or - more likely - the kids who did try to do something different had parents who told them they were doing it wrong or said, "Honey, wouldn't it look pretty if you did red-green-red-green?" And frankly, no, it would not look prettier. It would look like something that I could do, and that would bring me no joy when I saw it hanging on the tree.

Then, a few weeks ago, I took Jack to a paint-your-own pottery place. He selected a lizard figurine, and I got paints while he checked out the play area. The woman who gave me the paints told me that there were different widths of brushes, if I was interested. I laughed and said that wasn't really necessary - the kid making the lizard was only three years old and wasn't about to get fancy with different brush widths.

She smiled at me conspiratorially and said, "Oh, I know, it's hard. You want to let them be creative, but..."

But nothing. The lizard was certainly never supposed to be my artistic creation. If it were, for one thing, it would not have been a lizard. But second, what do I care if he paints it some weird way? The most important thing was for us to all have fun, with a second consideration being for Jack to create something that he was proud of. Him creating a showpiece lizard for me to display was never in the cards. Frankly, it was not at all hard to watch as Jack slapped random colors onto his lizard. Nor was it hard to allow him to name it "Stormtrooper The Lizard."

Jack has also been expressing this creativity a lot in the way he dresses. Yesterday, he decided to pretend to be Prince Charming. So, he added his Santa jacket and a khaki bucket hat to his regular clothes. As you do, apparently. Steve and I had to laugh over the fact that he was going for Prince Charming, but between the crazy getup and the black eye, he looked like a punched lunatic.

Today was even more awesome. I dressed Jack in an outfit that Steve's parents got him - Mickey Mouse t-shirt, with a matching hooded vest. Picture a hooded sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off. Jack zipped the vest all the way up, then added my red headband, which he wore Olivia Newton-John style around his head. He looked like an extra from Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. And it was awesome.

Jack's teachers, Miss Missy (unfortunate) was delighted with today's ensemble. As soon as Jack walked in and she spotted the headband she said, "Oh, what are you today? I can't wait to see!" The fact that she takes such obvious joy in the satorical decisions of a three-year old boy makes it clear to me that she is absolutely the right kind of teacher for Jack.

Even if he is a punched lunatic.


newsjunkie said...

Not that you need to be told, but Jack is awesome!

And he's lucky to have parents like you and Steve who encourage his creativity and individualism.

daisybones said...

:) You = great mama!

I wanna see photos of Stormtrooper the Lizard!

littlemonstercallum said...

I'm like you and can't understand parents who don't let their kids be creative the way the kid wants it to be. What makes something special that is done by a child is that it is how they did it, all crazy colours, beads to no order, fun names and it's not worth changing that for the world. It's like with paint/colour by numbers, sure it's great to see how clever they are by matching the right colour and number up but there is also nothing wrong with changing the number of a colour and doing it that way matching up.

I love hearing about Jack's creative side, it's good for kids to be like that and it always gives me a chuckle to hear what he's been doing.