My little rascals are great art lovers and are, like most children, full of creativity. They are especially inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci (read: the cartoon Leo Da Vinci) and try to imitate him every chance they get. Nevertheless, washing the walls to remove their artwork (and I use that term very loosely :D) is not really a part of my daily duties or at least I wish that would be the case.
There is at least one day out of the week where the detergent and my special wall washcloth can rest easy on the shelf of the utility room. If you would’ve told me 10 years ago that one day I would be the proud owner of a special wall washcloth I would’ve probably sent you packing to go back to whatever crazy town you came from but here we are – washcloth and all.
Yesterday; however, did not have the honor of winning the ‘Art free day’ trophy. I spent the entire afternoon scrubbing our newly painted white walls that had become the canvas for ‘breathtaking’ abstract art. And it really did take my breath away because it takes a lot of elbow grease to remove those stubborn little doodles. So there I was, having a wrestling match with stick figures and trying to see who perseveres in the end.
I was hard at work when my youngest son walked by. Like a criminal returning to the crime scene since he was the author of this piece of art:) I took a deep breath and prepared to give him a lecture on how there are soooooo many better ways of spending your days than decorating walls.
Suddenly, I got a flashback of myself as a kid, decorating my grandma’s apartment walls and I did it with a pen and not a pencil. Also, I colored on wallpaper and not painted walls. Rebel here, remember? Hmmm, do I really have the moral high ground here to be giving him a lecture?
Another thought that occurred to me was how badly I wanted to force these kids into a box by telling them 183 times a day to only draw on paper. At the same time, my goal is not to raise a good kid but a great adult in the future.
DON’T KILL THE CREATIVITY
I was listening to Tanel Jäppinen discuss the book Raising Your Spirited Child as a part of his Positive and Peaceful Parenting bookclub podcast. He talked about something I too have given a lot of thought – a lot of the qualities we do not appreciate in kids are the ones we value a lot in adults.
With adults, we greatly value their creativity and encourage them to think outside the box but when it comes to children, we cannot force them into a box fast enough (the box being a sketch pad in this case) and then we wonder why it is so difficult to get them to apply some creativity to their thinking.
If I could choose whether to have a creative child or clean walls then which would I choose? I have to admit that my vote goes to creativity. Creativity – douze points! (You have to be a Eurovision fan to get that one :))
STOP TRYING TO PUT PEOPLE IN BOXES
I realized that the same happens in leadership. Often times we try to force people to fit a mold created by ourselves, companies or society and then we complain that they lack creativity. How on earth can they express their creativity when we have set so many strict boundaries for them?
I am currently reading a book called Multipliers (which is about leadership). The author, Liz Wizeman, masterfully explains that if you want to be a leader who in turn produces leaders then the last thing you want to do is limit creativity and set strict boundaries. Of course I want to raise my children to become leaders. What parent wouldn’t?
So I held my tongue, smiled to my dear artist of a son and kept washing the walls. They’ve heard the lecture numerous times before and surely, they will outgrow drawing on walls eventually. Right? Unless they end up becoming the next Banksy in which case no wall is safe.
However, I’ll try to store their art supplies on a higher shelf for now:) At least I can console myself with the hope that they are growing up to be people who can think outside the box and see solutions that others may overlook.
This week, try to see people in another way. Not as they currently are but who they could be in the future. Try to be understanding and encouraging during their journey to becoming that person and switch from being their toughest critic to their biggest fan! Nobody likes a Negative Nelly so you might benefit from the switch as well.
Please feel free to share similar experiences in the comment section down below!
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