I remember growing up with a tub of Legos and only my imagination to build. But now, most creative toys come in sets with precise building instructions. It's almost as if our entire society has leaned toward instruction, rather than freedom to create.
I'm sure we can be all pretty creative at times. But when it comes to on the spot, child like creativity, I tend to fall a little short. During a recent one on one play session with my son, my organizing tendencies seemed to scream louder than the ability to create. I admit that in this situation, at this moment, following instructions might have been easier for me.
Legos dumped on the floor.
"Let's build something, mom!"
Spotted some propeller looking pieces and decided that a boat would be an easy task. I started forming the most oddly shaped, square boat, that could be formed with the small set of Legos at hand. About half way through the boat making process, I abandoned ship. My son stepped to the plate, determined to not let my boat making go without completion.
With my son on boat task, my creativity completely dimished. Found myself picking up all the Legos of a specific color and randomly sticking them all together, without a plan or purpose. When suddenly, I was busted in my slightly obsessive organizing mode.
"What are you making?!"
With a look of confusion at my own creation, I replied, "uhm.... Yellow?"
Without skipping a beat, he responded "It looks really good mom! You're doing a great job!"
Two thoughts of clarity struck during our play time:
1- Our children crave one on one connection. They desire our full attention. Setting aside time to focus on a child from hard places, without distractions, promotes immediate healing effects. Even if it's only for a thirty minute burst of time, it makes them feel like the most valuable treasure.
2- Our children's purest heart comes out during play. The tough guy walls are dropped, when the playful part of the brain takes over. For a moment, all the bad memories evade, the painful thoughts feel soothed, what happened earlier in the day disappears.
My son has been labeled as having bullying issues in some surroundings. But when his truest heart shows, it's much easier to recognize that what's being labeled as mean or threatening, is the side effect of something running much deeper. It's in the moments of play, that I see the amazing young man my son holds inside. He's a born leader. He cares about finishing what's been started. He's an encourager.
With his encouragement: The boat was finished, but pieces were soon taken from it to create more. We built cars. We created a duck man, riding a Segway. My color grouping moment was named Yellow. Yellow got the eye pieces, and soon turned into a character of our imagination.
But my most favorite moment of all, was seeing the light in his eyes, when I promised him that we'd create together again soon. I'm not sure which of us are more excited for that next time. I look forward to honing the heart that comes out in my son when we play together. I eagerly await the day when he feels safe enough to show that true self to everyone, and he becomes the leader God is calling him to be.