My new favorite podcast is NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, and last week's show "Too Old for Youth Culture and Toys" was a great episode with opinions flying over being "too old" for anything as well as nostalgia for toys of golden-age days gone by.
Interwoven in the discussion was a call-back to familiar adult-isms, sayings like "kids these days!" and "get off my lawn!" which segued into another perennial topic of conversation amongst adults - how modern technology is robbing our children of the simplicities of the childhood we (collectively) shared. The hosts bemoaned the fact that if they had had access to the highly evolved video games of today, they would have missed out on making up games with friends and siblings, on make-believe and fantasy, on all of the things that a healthy amount of boredom creates.
I'm no stranger to that line of thinking. I myself have done plenty of hand-wringing over screen time and the Xbox and Pokemon obsessions and Disney shows. From the moment I read the first page of Amanda Blake Soule's The Creative Family, I purposed in my mind that my children would be raised in a family culture that relied heavily on creativity, creation, and creative living.
Then I resisted screen time at all angles until sheer exhaustion with the battle led me to lay down my sword, burdened with the guilt of surrender.
Something amazing keeps happening though, something that I didn't expect but couldn't be more delighted to find is true: even in a home with access to Minecraft and Pocket Frogs and Jessie, when given free time, my girls still choose creative work over and over again.
On Sunday, they invited over a neighbor friend, and they meandered around the house a bit, checking out AJ's new Pet Pet Park account and listening to a CD in the girls' room for a bit. Eventually, though, they ended up in the dining room - the room that has become Creativity Central in our house. Their friend requested the origami book, and she and Dacey got it out and got to work.
AJ doesn't like origami, so she turned to the art supplies to which they have free reign access (and full responsibility for caring for and putting away) and went to work on her current favorite object of art: rocket ships.
Together, the three of them spent the better part of the afternoon chitter-chattering away, folding paper and coloring and making up stories and dreaming and laughing. And it just made me so very, very happy.
As I sat there, watching them work with a goofy grin on my face, I thought about how this wasn't an isolated incident in our home. It truly happens more often than I give them credit for, the choosing of creative work over a screen. Whether it's baking or embroidery or fiddling with Makey-Make or writing books or just making up elaborate worlds in which the drama of their stuffed animals' lives play out, they are always up for doing something.
I'm sharing this today, I suppose, not to brag or congratulate myself, but more to give hope to the mom whose kiddos are a few years behind mine, the one who is cringing each time her little one points to the iPad, the one with the Minecraft music providing a soundtrack to their days. Keep the crayons within arm's reach and never stop letting them sit on the kitchen counter while you stir up the next batch of cookies.
With your own actions and words, keep showing them how fulfilling the creative life is, and I'll share in your delight when you, too, discover that creativity wins.
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