“Mommy, I want to paint,” says my three year old.
I pour the red and the yellow paint into jars, velcro on his painting smock, and hand him the brushes.
“What is it?” I ask, after he’s filled most of the page. He stands back to examine his picture.
“It’s a great, big…giant!” he exclaims. “And this is his water bottle!” (He points to the smaller orange blob beside the larger orange blob).
Tomorrow it might be a dinosaur, a tree, his little brother. But today, it is a giant.
Somewhere along the way our creativity got smothered in fear. In judgement. In comparison. Somewhere between being three and being a grown-up we stopped creating with bravery. And it happens quickly. I saw the hesitation in my primary students as they held their pencils above the page.
“I’m going to go play drums,” the three year old says as he closes the basement door behind him.
I soon hear a beat echoing through the walls. I haven’t heard this one yet. It’s a new one he’s making up down there with his blue ear muffs on, protecting his little ears.
How do we get back to that place of freedom in our creativity? To create out of a place of exploration and joy. Just to see what happens.
“How do you know if what you write is actually good or just complete garbage?” I ask a writer friend the other day. We’re in our church’s nursery surrounded by toddlers and toy cars. I’m handing out arrowroot cookies like their lives depend upon it.
“It’s not your job to decide that,” she answers. And I feel a little bit lighter.