Today, we need to talk about a special person. This person knows no boundaries. Or, sees them, but then does without them. Allow me to explain.
Life with my toddler is about living beyond a box. Whatever box you picture in your head. How do I know this? I invite you to do an activity, pick any activity, and do it with her. I dare you. When I do anything with her, I begin by having a mental picture of how it will go. I have a sense of how others do it, how other children fare, etc. I babysat a lot in my youth (that word makes me sound like an ancient sage, but, you get my point), so I know. Anyway, I start with a mental picture. Within minutes, the activity breaks down. I mean, literally – and often, physically. The entire look changes, and I’m left with…yes. You got it. A mess to clean up, pieces of me to pick back up…
You think I’m being dramatic. Maybe I am. Just a little. But you wouldn’t be here reading this if some little part of you didn’t appreciate this odd side to me. Yes? Yes? (Hopefully).
Right, this will make the most sense to you if I tell you a story. Let me take you to a place you’ve never been. Relatively recently I took my child along to visit a friend as she and I had planned a playdate for our kiddos. I brought along a painting activity that I thought our two toddlers would enjoy doing. My daughter and hers are more or less the same age. We arrived, my friend set up the table for painting on, put a raggedy towel on it, and brought two little disposable cups with small amounts of water in them for rinsing off the paint brushes. When we got to the stage of selecting paint brushes, I actually warned her of the need to give my toddler a larger-sized one that would be a bit harder to destroy. Yesss. I was that much smarter after an earlier experience. Ahem. Onwards! Well, one child was seated calmly throughout the entire setup process. Hint: it wasn’t my child.
When table and utensils were all ready, I called my child. Three times! When she was ready, she finally decided to drag herself from whatever other thing she’d been playing with, then bolted with a rush of energy over to the table. I caught her just in time. Any other move and the water etc. would have spilled over. Phew. She was excited, ready to begin. Dipped her brush in water, then started to paint. Then stabbed the painting. Repeatedly. Then dipped her brush in the cup of water. Then proceeded to paint her arm, then her hand, then led the brush up, up, up one nostril. At that point, I thought it was a good idea to call time on that activity. Done and done. For the entire 5-or-so-minute activity (gosh!) I had been constantly saying: “careful!” “ok…no!” “oops…no!” all the way through. Almost having heart palpitations throughout the “fun” activity. I kid you not, the little girl next to me had been steadily and quietly painting that ENTIRE time. Her mum just sat next to her, barely needing to give any coaching or tips, but was fully engrossed in just watching my child. And laughing. She was in total awe and reached her laugh quotient that day for sure. It’s likely that that experience, umm, cemented our friendship. Sigh. Well, thank God she still loves me/us. 😊
When my toddler was done with that activity, she again bolted off with such energy, Usain Bolt needs to sit under her tutelage. My husband had suuuuch a laugh later that evening as I relayed this experience.
I explained to my friend that day that this was typical. Every.single.activity done with my little one morphs! It takes on a life of its own, owing to her extreme levels of creativity. That’s literally what I noticed whatever day it was that I finally decided to stop being frustrated. I stopped, looked at her anew, and realized…her vivid imagination is actually in full bloom in those moments. So, want to hear something even crazier? When I look at her, I am looking into a mirror at me PAST. She is me. I am her. So, what exactly am I being frustrated about? Lol!
I felt the Lord prodding my heart one day, asking me: “What do you think you could learn from her?” So here I am, showing you what hit me. Simply put, it’s this: you and I mustn’t feel limited, confined to the exact scope of our environment, tools, talent, skills, BOX. There is something in my kid that is ridiculously fearless, and I would be half-mad to cause her to lose it. So you and I have got to, like her, push it. Risk it! Sure, there will be times when pushing it will land you in trouble, but oh boy will there be times when it leads to a great reward. The reward may be a new idea, a new creation, a new business, even an M&M. Hey, whatever motivates you, my friend. I’m writing this post just in case another toddler happens to be reading after all.
Bottom line? There’s no shame in risking things for a chance to create, to let our imaginations get out there. God made us that way. He creates. We create.
What beauty can come from an unconfined mind. 😊
Be a kid again. Well, be especially like my kid.