Welcome to Saturday’s Share – Reflections and impressions inspired by and celebrating images from daily life, to add a bit of sparkle to the weekend. Happy Saturday!
I took this picture a few months ago, on a sunny, perfectly warm August afternoon. The children and I were attending Eighteenth Century Day at thePhillip Schuyler House, a local historical site. The event was spread across the expansive lawn. At nine and nearly twelve, it was the first time I was able to feel comfortable letting both children wander off to do as they wished, after we watched a traditional sheep-shearing together.
Jeremiah came and went, enjoying reporting back to me on things he thought were especially interesting – “They’ve got actual live LEECHES, Mom!”, and on his younger sister’s activities. “She’s trying stilts!”
Eventually, I reached the area where Annalise had spent the majority of her time. A physical person who loves art and crafts, she had watched soapmaking, tried the stilts and other toys, and dipped her own candle…a candle she was meant to hang on a drying rack long enough for it to solidify.
But she was eager, and wanted to develop her newly-discovered stiltwalking skills, and so she grabbed up her candle…and, still soft, it sat on a table, forgotten and curving while she played.
When I caught up to her, I snapped a quick shot of her happy face – pride in her accomplishment, and a touch of chagrin at the reshaping…but, mostly, just the pure plain joy of doing what she pleased, of creating and moving in new ways, and of making a new friend and new discoveries on a sunny late afternoon spent outside.
This picture has me thinking – to me, the candle looked ruined, and I was prepared to be sad for Annalise, whose “project” was deformed due to what I saw as impatience.
Only, she didn’t see it that way. She loved making the candle, and she thought the fact that it curved was its most interesting feature. It showed her why people might want to let candles hang until hardened – but she wasn’t disappointed to have learned it the way she did. She even asked me to keep her candle safe, so that she’ll have it as a souvenir.
To her, candlemaking was a success with an unexpected
It made me wonder – how often do we, as adults, impose our ideas of how things ought to be on the children in our lives. I don’t mean in things like homework or bedtimes (although I have issues with those, too, but that’s another post or ten!).
I’m talking about things that are a child’s own – projects they choose for themselves, like a dipped candle, a coloring page, pretend play, modeling clay.
These aren’t high stakes propositions. They’re entertainment. They really don’t have anything to do with adults, unless our opinion is sought by the creating child.
And yet, I’ve caught myself coaching, correcting, telling each of my children how I think they ought to do these things, and getting angsty when they don’t do it my way. I’ve seen many other parents do the same thing. My own parents did it, too.
But why? Why do we, as adults, think we know better the path a child’s private play or creativity ought to follow?
And what do we lose, when we do this? What does it cost our children?
When I see this happy girl with her curvy candle, I get an idea of the risk.
It’s just this. Just joy. Just exploration. Just discovery. Just ownership and creation for the sake of creating. Just whatever she got out of this experience, for herself.
Maybe her creative spirit is strong enough to resist any judgment I might pass upon it. But when I remember the delight of a blossoming girl in the sunshine, proud of what she’s made, I’m not so willing to take that chance.
Wishing you all the imperfect joy of creation – whether a curvy candle, a crooked blanket, an unbalanced sonnet, or a collapsed souffle – and the courage to dare and delight, even when it doesn’t come out quite “right”!
Do you have any happy stories of creations that didn’t turn out as you’d hoped, but were still great fun to make? Happy makes more happy. I’d love to hear your stories and see your happy photos. Why not tell me about what fires your creative spirit?
After all, Saturdays are for sharing!