Kids seem to have a wonderful way of keeping us grounded. When my head gets a bit big for my body, my kids have the natural talent of innocently delivering some biting home truth to bring me back to earth.
("Mum when I grow up will I have a jelly body like yours?")
Kids creativity is just as innocent and brilliantly genuine. Give a child almost anything and leave them to it and they will create something amazing.
When strict plans and instructions are present, all you end up with is someone else's creation, made over and over again by different people. And to be honest, those guidelines aren't really necessary for a bit of brilliant creation by kids. (Not to mention that they more than get enough of that at school). . . (can you hear the vomiting noises I'm making from here?)
This school holidays I've watched the kids let loose their creative flair. They've created mud sculptures on rainy days, they've built a fairy town in the garden without help or assistance, and found the most remarkable ways to solve the problems they ran into.
All of these endeavours have been unsupervised, unguided, no adults present or welcome, sort of ventures. The only part I have to play in this creative process is to come and see the final product and be impressed.
And I don't have to pretend to be impressed. I am impressed.
My 10 year old takes part in the 52-Week Illustration Challenge, and her weekly images tackle the themes in original and amazing ways, with no input needed from anyone else.
I have sometimes looked at a picture drawn by the kids and not had a clue what it was, and I have had the urge to "instruct" to make it "better", but that's not my job. If asked for input, input is given. If asked to help with a particular technique (collage, water colours, etc) a quick run down is given on their use. But then I walk away.
Because it's not the parent's job to entertain their children. It's not my job to keep them "happy" 100% of the time - or any of the time. Happiness and contentment are things that they will have to learn to find within themselves on their own.
No person in the world can make another happy - it is up to the individual to find that within themselves, kids included.
Yes, there is a time for doing activities together, and yes it can be a lot of fun for both of you. But that isn't the only way; the way it MUST be done, always.
The other way is to hand over the materials, and let them go for it. Of course, handing a child a scalpel and some scrapper-board and saying knock yourselves out is not responsible parenting - common sense is required.
The point is not to endanger anyone. The point is to make the connection that there is a big difference between "unsafe" and "messy" and one shouldn't be passed off as the other. Messy is fun, messy is creativity at work, messy is - let's face it - life.
Paint can be made with flour, water and food colouring. Or even jam, marmalade, vegemite, coffee and tea on a canvas of pizza base. Creativity does not have to be toxic.
It pays to have a place to do this where mess doesn't matter as much . . . like outside. Failing that, an old shower curtain makes a great water-proof table cloth that you can hose down later on.
I guarantee you will be impressed by the creations.
(Disclaimer: Common sense is a necessary ingredient in any activity and Figments&Glimpses takes no responsibility for any outcome of your creative endeavours, including fun. . . it's all on you. lol.)