For parents, this means providing our children with simple resources and allowing them to attempt many unusual ideas. Sometimes it means messes. Sometimes it requires us to set aside some notion that they are being wasteful. Sometimes we must allow them to use "dangerous" things like knives and fire and broken glass. The result is that learning is taking place, as is the development of new gifts and abilities, and an appreciation for other people's work and creativity.
Moms to little ones, may I encourage you to intentionally think about what will be valuable to your kids later while your kids are still young? And then start young. An older child addicted to video games, for instance, will have a very hard time learning the joy of both work and creative, productive play if this is not a way of life from an early age. If I could go back, I'd be even more lenient about messes and consumption of resources. I'd try harder to value the learning process over my neat and tidy plan, and I'd embrace accomplishments and imagination rather than bemoan the mess and "waste."
Encourage even the simplest of creations. It's cool when my kids think of something they would like to try or make, it's even cooler when they actually do it. Encourage the attitude of doing and making.
These are some of the little creations I've had the pleasure of seeing my kids enjoy recently...
A unicycle made by Andrew. He uses popsicle sticks that are split lengthwise with a razor cutter and he assembles the pieces with hot glue.
Then while Andrew was at football practice, Michael made and gifted him with this bicycle.
The spokes are only threads of hot glue.
The next day, Andrew came out with this helicopter. I think I detect some healthy competition? :)
My boys have also developed a sudden interest in plants, and now terrariums in containers of interesting shapes and origins.
Sometimes ideas or projects are copied, and sometimes this creates sibling conflict.
Always, this provides an opportunity to work through the issues and, over time, mutual respect and maturity grows.
Tiny plant in the glass of a light bulb~
The base is two pieces of popsicle sticks glued together, and four drops of glue provide a stand.
Apart from these, there are colored salt crystals growing in jars on my kitchen window sill, various mosses growing in various containers in the boys' bathroom, projects with macadamia nuts from our neighbor's tree, containers of who-knows-what outside, "exploding" throwing star, the backyard tree with it's pulleys and buckets, experiments with melting CDs, and numerous other projects I can't think of now or don't even know about!
Olivia is my painter and drawer and musician. She is amazing, but she has less and less time now, which makes me encourage the boys to enjoy the freedom they have now. Creative type play and experimentation are not a fruitless pursuits.
I'm still learning that people are more important than most other things going on in my day. I have to force myself sometimes to stop - just stop! - and revel in someone else! This could easily become a long rabbit trail, but for me that means fighting hard against my impulse to keep at my busyness. I'm working at not allowing my face and hands and even my breathing to indicate to my husband and kids that their interests and ideas are uninteresting or unimportant to me. The following is a quote that has long stuck in my mind~
"Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big. Because to them all of it has been the big stuff."
C. M. Wallace
Look and listen intently to your loved ones. This can express love louder than your words.