Encouraging An Interest You Don’t Share (and that makes a mess!)

Mouse is creative in the artistic sense. She loves to make things to pretty up the house. She cares about clothes and what looks “cute”. She wants lotions and soaps that smell nice. She also loves bones,the workings of the human body and wants to be ” a doctor who works on arms and legs” when she grows up!

We are so different. She sees things and gets ideas that would never enter my mind and so many of her ideas are so messy! She moves from one idea to the next and leaves a trail of paper bits, glue sticks, hair ribbons and decorations in her wake. Her desire and need for tactile sensory input means that she not only stamps paper with her rubber stamps, but she also stamps her hands, arms and legs, and picks apart the stamp pads to experiment with using them to dye pieces of cloth, or color on papers! We went through a long time period where scissors were as likely to be used on her hair or clothes as on more appropriate materials.

So how do I encourage her to pursue these interests, while also teaching her to think before she cuts up her blanket to make a scarf? How do I enter into her joys and challenges to help her grow?

First of all I need to remember that many of the messes she makes are the result of a lack of discernment and controlling her artistic impulses. She wasn’t being naughty when she cut the hem off of a school uniform to complete her doll’s winter ensemble with a plaid scarf. She just wasn’t thinking beyond “this would look nice” to “what will happen to my dress?”

I need to teach her discernment and that won’t happen by my making rules that she won’t remember in the heat of her enthusiasm! I need to give her materials to create with, keep the rules in that area few and simple (basically create as you please with these materials and clean up after yourself) and then be prepared to appreciate her effort and her vision as she creates. I do need to enforce the “clean up” rule and sometimes there will need to be consequences for not having cleaned up, but primarily I need to be an enthusiastic supporter of her ideas and desire to create and bring beauty into her surroundings.

I also need to include her in my own efforts to bring beauty into our home. Both from an instructive perspective- teaching her what beauty looks likes and from an inclusive one- giving her the opportunity to contribute to the family by bringing beauty to us. Sometimes that is going to mean including something on the table that isn’t necessarily beautiful to the rest of us but that she has brought in an attempt to bless us. Sometimes that will mean gently instructing her in how colors work together, how to set a pretty table, or how to tidy a room (something I’m still learning). And sometimes it will mean bringing her into my own learning of how and why to do these things, my own struggles to be disciplined to clean up after myself, and being honest with her about the struggle that we can have between our desires and vision and our abilities.

It’s a tall order and there still only twenty-four hours in a day. This is my calling though: to help these children grow into who they were created to be that they might in turn fulfill their own callings.

Only grace will accomplish this.

This entry was posted in Beauty, Creativity, Encouragement, free play, Housekeeping, Life, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Encouraging An Interest You Don’t Share (and that makes a mess!)

  1. Eileen says:

    I think I may have caused my mum these sort of problems when I was small. I can remember being given my own scraps of material to make my creations – with instructions that I could cut them up as and when I wanted but was not allowed to cut anything else!! Every so often mum would make a big fuss (I now realise, looking back) about filling up my scrap box, letting me choose where possible what had caught my eye. It wasn’t only materials, I also had my own buttons, bits of ribbon, odd ends of wool, some felt, lace, sparkly bits … I feel quite nostalgic writing about it!

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