Kids are born curious. Put something into an infant’s hand and it will go directly into their mouth. When blocks were first placed in front of our kids, they would bang them on the floor or against each other to make sounds. If blocks were stacked on top of each other, they’d knock them over.
As each of our kids grew so did their curiosity - and with that curiosity, so did their creativity. Linnea began creating when she was first handed a marker and some paper. An old ice cream bucket doubled as a hat in her mind. An assortment of pillows, chairs, a ball, and a blanket creates the perfect obstacle course for her and her brother to complete.
Elias’s fine motor skills developed as he learned to stack rubber blocks on top of one another. He loves driving his cars and turning anything into an obstacle that the “zoo train” can collide with. Playdough takes about any form imaginable - from cookies and pizza to animals and vehicles.
Kids are creative by nature. Play isn’t only fun, play is developmentally appropriate learning. Their creativity sometimes rubs off on me as well. It’s hard not to get into play with them.
Lately, we’ve been playing the “skunk game” when I get home. It’s pretty simple if you want to do the same with your kids - although, if you don’t have a 4 and 3-year-old, it might be kind of weird, or really funny. Linnea often is the skunk first and she will try to crawl up to the couch without me noticing her. I’m laying on the couch (I love this game for this reason) and holding Elias, protecting him from the skunk spray.
“Go away skunk” is what I’ll say as Linnea approaches and tries to spray Elias. She’ll giggle and then run away. Then it is Elias’s turn to be the skunk and we’ll switch roles and do it again.
The kids completely came up with that game, as they do every day with a variety of other games. Providing kids the play time to imagine is great. Elias and Linnea aren’t bound by the realities that exist in the world. When Linnea was sitting in her “racecar” made of an Amazon cardboard box I didn’t hear Elias say, “that doesn’t even have an engine!”
When Elias is making ice cream out of playdough, Linnea doesn’t tell him that it’s not real ice cream. She imagines that it’s the best ice cream in the world. And he loves everything about that.
Unfortunately, as time goes on, their creativity will probably start to wane. That’s what happens as we grow. The reality of situations overrules the possibility of situations. We get busy with other things and don’t give ourselves the brain space needed to be creative.
But creativity is a powerful skill that we should harness and continue to develop. Not everyone squashes creativity as they get older, some people unlock their creativity even more. Writing has helped me to further develop my creativity muscles. I’m more creative today than I have been in decades and it’s because I’ve put myself in a place that allows me to be creative.
Jon Acuff said in one of his books that a soundtrack he tells himself is “Writers Gotta Write.” He’s spot on. The more you do something in the creative space, the more the creativity muscle is going to grow. Want to get more creative as a painter, learn more painting techniques. And then paint. Want to become a better graphic designer, design some stuff. Want to build your creativity muscle with writing, you’ve gotta write.
When thinking about the creativity that is inherent in kids, I better understand what Jesus was talking about when he encouraged his disciples to have child-like faith in the Kingdom of God. In the same way that a child can look at a box and see a racecar, a new follower of Christ can look at his words to love your enemy and actually go out and do that.
Maybe that’s why there are so many stories of people that didn’t know Jesus, became believers, and then immediately went out and had a major impact on the world. They took Jesus at what he said. They saw the command and didn’t worry about the fact that their cardboard car didn’t have an actual engine, they just loved their neighbor.
That’s why I am so grateful for this time in my life and the life of my kids. They are hilarious and fun to be around, but even more than that, they are teaching me every day to look beyond what something is and imagine what it could become.
How about you?
Do you consider yourself a creative person? If so, where do you use creativity in your life?
But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them,“Let the children come to me;do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
- Mark 10:14-15
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