My toddler is bawling. She runs toward me, and I grab her up in a spider/monkey hug, and she snuggles into my chest and shoulder, sniffling

“What’s wrong, darling girl?”

” Oh, mommy. I’m SO sad.”

“Why are you sad?”

“I’m angry! My heart hurts. My daddy is too far away. I real miss my daddy. He real real real needs to come home to me!!!!”

I don’t say anything, but just snuggle her close and breathe into her little body.

She pops her head up a bit.

“May I have Mamas to make my daddy come home?” (that’s how she asks to nurse)

“Oh, sweet girl, you may have Mamas, but I can’t promise that that will make daddy come home. It doesn’t work like that.”

“But my daddy is too far away in the water!”

“I agree, sweet girl. He is too far away from us. But he is on his way back.”

“But he’s not here! He needs to be here!”

“Daddy is on a big boat – and those big boats, they move very slowly. We have to wait for him.”

“And the little boats go fast!? Zoom!” as she shoots off running around the room

“Yes, that’s right. Little boats go fast, but daddy’s big boat, it moves pretty slowly. So we must be patient.”

sigh

“OOOOKKKAAAAAAY. But may I have Mamas while I wait? That will make me feel happy! May I feel them, and smell them, and drink them, . . . together????”

she points to her bed, smiles, and closes her eyes, as if imagining how nursing would make her feel

“Yes sweetheart. You may have Mamas whenever you need to.”

“Mamas, Mamas, Mamas!!!!!! . . . big grin and clapping hands


she throws herself on her bed and sobs dramatically

I miss my daddy.”
A little bit more dramatic sniffling as she nurses, and then she puts her hand on my heart and sighs.

And some people wonder why anyone would nurse past infancy. . . case and POINT.

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Nurturing Creativity



Welcome to the August Carnival of Natural Parenting: Creating With Kids


This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they make messes and masterpieces with children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.





Creativity has always been a part of my life. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have access to some method of using creativity – since I can remember, my mind has been actively creative. . . playing with markers and fingerpaints as a toddler, making up dances and plays and stories when I was young, creating elaborately decorated school projects. . . I even wrote a few really interesting stories as an elementary school student – and illustrated them (though I really wasn’t the most gifted artist). Dancing through my youth and adolescence, learning ballet, tap, musical theater and eventually enjoying modern dance disciplines. . . even while competing in speech competitions in middle and high school, which are judged on an objective scale. . . I was drawn to be incredibly creative and interpretive. And now, all (well, mostly) grown up, I sing, dance, sew, knit, craft, and adapt my way through motherhood.

It doesn’t matter what I’m doing . . . I’m pretty much always creative about it. When there’s a need for a tight budget, I make it work. I can see an alternative solution to a problem. I tend to make up rhymes and songs to sing to my lovelies. Creativity is absolutely a blessing. But I daydream, too. I get lost in thought. Sometimes, my mind is so full of inspiration and ideas that I feel a but jumbled. . . and as a friend recently reminded me to do, I have to let it all go into a sketchbook in order to come back to reality (but save those fantastic ideas for another more appropriate time). So sometimes it can be a bit of a frustration, too.

But creativity is something I definitely enjoy nurturing in my children, and something that I think is incredibly important to remember to make time for. In a world that is pretty crazy, nurturing creativity, even in the simplest ways, encourages a child to honor the beauty and meaning in themselves, and in everything around them. I was blessed as a child with an incredibly supportive set of parents who allowed me to follow my interests, and made available the resources that I needed to indulge them. And now, I’m a creative mother in turn. This doesn’t mean that I do elaborate crafts with my kids, or expect them to learn to color between the lines of a coloring book. This also doesn’t mean that if Abbey ends up more interested in soccer than dance or likes math more than music that I’ll stress the importance of art to a fault.

It just means that I keep materials on hand to let Abbey be creative with (artistically) when she wants to, and I nurture that desire to create by allowing her to do it on her own time, in her own way, with her own hands, at her own speed. It means that when Abbey comes up to me with some crazy made up story about her little pig needing to find his mommy, and the assertion that I MUST don daddy’s shoes and a fireman hat and wave her fairy wand to help out, I do. When Joseph makes noises, I repeat them back to him in different tones and volumes. We sing songs together. Sometimes without words. Just repeating the sounds and facial expressions he makes. Abbey usually reaches for her markers, her dress up clothes, and her books before she wants to watch a movie – and even when she does ask to watch TV, it’s always something with songs she can sing (and dance) along to. She probably knows over thirty songs. That girl loves to sing, and picks up melodies so quickly! Both children watch me knit. They see the things I sew for them. To Abbey, something “made” is a precious item. She even pretends to make things for her baby brother out of scraps of fabric and her very own “knitting” (which at this point, is just a bundle of acrylic yarn out of my stash, and my least used knitting needles). Recently, she drew this picture specifically “for daddy” on her own after breakfast one day. It’s “the ocean for daddy’s boat.”

Being creative with my children is not hard. But it is important. And as an adult, it takes some dedication and attentiveness. Like remembering not to interrupt a wild, fantastical story – or only intervening in a craft in order to prevent an injury or encourage cooperation

(and just let messes happen as they will)

It’s not hard. It doesn’t cost a lot of money. It only results in a bit more clean up

But it has immense rewards.

Nurturing creativity allows me to really truly enjoy my children’s childhoods – and to see the individual beauty in each of them.


***

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Comments

  1. “In a world that is pretty crazy, nurturing creativity, even in the simplest ways, encourages a child to honor the beauty and meaning in themselves, and in everything around them.”

    Beautiful insight. I need to think of more ways to offer creative opportunities to my little guy. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. I always appreciate your writing, because you inspire me to be better :) I am not a good pretender (as in “let’s pretend that you’re a ___ and I’m a ___ and we’re going ____) – but I’m going to work at it, if only to nurture Kieran’s imagination!

  3. I love it — you sound super creative, and I love that you’re nurturing that in your children. My son’s “knitting” sounds much the same as your daughter’s. :) He keeps wanting to make a scarf for his Grandma, so I’ve finally taken the hint and we went to the store to buy a loom that maybe (I hope) will make the project doable for the two of us together. I couldn’t otherwise figure out how to knit with a four-year-old! :)

  4. Ladies, thanks for the comments. Dionna, you flatter me – that I inspire YOU of all people to do better! ;) I’ve actually hit a major pothole in my parenting during this latest deployment. I’m working through the issues and hashing it out for a blog post relatively soon.

    I have to say – creativity does help when there are issues. When things are crazy, creativity can save the day, if I let it!

    Lauren, I read from Soule Mama (Amanda Blake) that even a child as young as three can learn to knit, with safe, dull needles, and enough focus and encouragement. If they want to learn, the knit stitch itself isn’t too hard – kind of like learning to tie a shoe. The focus part is the stickler for us. Abbey will say the rhyme over and over, while twiddling the needles in circles :)

  5. Thanks for the great lesson in how important it is to model creativity to our kids. I love the idea that my kids will come to enjoy similar activities as me – and the fact that they will introduce me to new ones as well.

    Your daughter sounds like a wonderful knitter! :)

  6. What cute pics!

    I love your perspective on being creative!

  7. what a lovely post – I love how creativity curses through your veins and you are helping to nurture that gift in your children. It’s such a blessing because I know I am guilty of saying no because I can’t bear the thought of the clean up afterwards – but you’re right; it’s not much to do and the rewards are immense. Thanks for the powerful reminders!

  8. I love how you nurture creativity in so many different ways. Like singing songs that reflect your son’s sounds and facial expressions–I’ve never thought of that, but am going to do that now!

    And when you said, “Sometimes, my mind is so full of inspiration and ideas that I feel a but jumbled…” I completely resonated with you. I feel that way most of the time, and have a running sketchbook and word document where I keep my ideas too!

  9. Great inspiring post and yes, my mind gets terribly jumbled too! If I don’t get it down on paper my life gets messy in turn…

    I also believe creativity and creative thinking is so important for our kids. I can’t think of a single situation where it wouldn’t be useful.

    I think this gift you’re giving them will be both a joy and practical tool for them their life long.

    In regards to the knitting, my friend has started doing embroidery with her 3 year old twins – really easy and rewarding. It’s what I’m going to try next. I think she got the idea from Amanda Blake’s book. These posts are really inspiring me to hit the craft shops!

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