Wednesday, May 4, 2011

All in a Day's Play

I recently read a blog that listed ways we stifle our children's creativity. It's true. We are a generation of parents who easily succumb to immediate gratification, keeping our kids quiet with TV, video games, or "learning" toys. We have beautiful homes on tiny lots and we have been taught to hover: instructing our kids to not climb so high, not to walk to the neighbors independently, having over-supervised play dates.

How irritated I would get as a child when I told my mom "I'm bored" and her response was, "Oh good! I have plenty for you to do." I was irritated then but as I say the same irritating words to my own kids- I'm thankful she did it. With a mom who required some personal responsibility, who didn't hand us entertainment in our listlessness, and a house full of siblings, we managed to get creative in our play. My own kids are blessed to have the same opportunities and even in a ridiculously wet Northwest spring, are finding inventive ways to play.

Spontaneously one morning Darla set to work on masks. Her cousins were going to be coming by and she thought if they were going to be Belle, Tinkerbell, and Silvermist- they should look the parts. She found paper plates and set to work. No one fed her a single idea, I simply tied a string on the back when the masks were completed. (I missed the picture of the boys' batman and spiderman masks.)
The next day Hudson had a wooden spoon and bowl out, pretending to cook for us. I went to feed Little Girly and put laundry away, amazed at how happy and quiet the other three were for an extended time. Upon entering the kitchen I was overwhelmed with the smell of cinnamon. Apparently invisible food didn't cut it so they created "Cinnamon Shake" (ingredients: water, cinnamon, sprinkles). I came in as the milk was being poured... into wine glasses. Our house smelled of cinnamon goodness for two days and I discovered in the back of the fridge that they saved some in a glass jar. Mmm mmm.
As they were cleaning up the kitchen mess, they found the paper plates and cups again. They immediately set to work making "phone systems". I was impressed that they thought to use the hole punch and string...and even more impressed that they knew what a rotary phone is.
(Yes, that is left over cinnamon still on Everett's face.)
One of the things on the list of creative children was to let children use furniture and toys for things other than their intended purpose. They accomplished that later in the afternoon when they tipped all our kitchen chairs on their backs to create a train (at least the steering wheel was a plastic plate). Kids and stuffed animals alike choo-chooed down the hall.

There is still cut up cardboard in my kitchen because they thought a great idea would be to make a sign to hang from our suburban's antennae that reads, "Taylor Car".

I thought that was enough for a day but when I was making dinner Darla came in the door with folded papers. "I've been asking the neighbors for help and money."
"For our zoo."
"Our what?"
"We want to make a zoo in our yard. We might borrow some people's animals. For sure we'll have Taryn (5 yr. old neighbor boy) get bugs. He's practically a bug scientist."
"What is it you'll need money for?"
" huh. I guess we don't. I guess I'll just give these invitations to the neighbors so they can come to the zoo."
"Sounds great. But it's dinner time so let's wait on the zoo."

The highlight of creativity came at the end of the week. Our neighborhood has an annual clean up day. Our kids decided with the neighbor kids that as a "reward" for everyone who cleans up, they would have a play to conclude the day. They found all the chairs they could and lined them on our sport court.
They enlisted the help of an older neighbor girl to build a 'fort' out of branches, which then became the castle.
Quite unfortunately, in their role casting and set design, they neglected to bother with lines, plot, a narrator, or anything else that might help the play be...well, a play. We watched them "play" for some time and they were proud of their performance.
Here is neighbor boy "King Kierian" with sword in what could loosely be described as an action scene:
Later Darla and I learned about narrators, plot conflict, and the essential aspect of letting your audience know what they are watching. She is excited to write the next script and let S. be narrator (so she can still play the leading lady role, naturally).
Our house is listed to sell and everything in me wants to keep it spotless so when we get last minute calls to show it, I can retain my sanity. When cinnamon fills the air, when paints and crayons and slivers of paper cover the floor, when I realize my lilac bush is naked because "the wild bunnies needed salad", I am tempted to hand over the video games. Ah, but there is more to learn than what a spotless house and clean children can teach... (I said with a nervous laugh.)

1 comment:

  1. AHH! I love this...I can just hear Darla talking about the zoo. AND...there must be a lot of creativity going on at our house. My living room floor is covered and the kitchen table is as well. Making Mother's Day cards is hard, messy work!
    Love you,