I spent last week with The Boy (2 1/2 year old grandson). As you know, he’s brilliant and cute — as all grandchildren are.
I don’t recall the exact circumstances of this particular daily “Play ball with me, Gramma” activity. He normally plays ball with his unextended light saber for a bat and one of his many balls. He went to the basement in search of a particular ball, which he couldn’t find. He returned with two plastic wieners and a plastic hot dog bun from his play kitchen. He handed me one wiener and kept the other and the empty bun for himself. He pretended to throw a ball to me, I pretended to throw it back, he pretended to hit it with the weiner, or catch it with the bun. He looked at me, like, “Gramma, don’t you get it?” No, I didn’t get it, but I caught on quickly. “Missed it,” he said, as he ran to find it. “Found it!” he shouted and began the routine again. How does this little kid know how to play with an imaginary ball? It seemed like an advanced concept to me. And so we played for at least half an hour — throwing, catching, and batting a ball that didn’t exist. It was as much fun as playing with a real ball.
Another afternoon, he asked me to put his socks on his hands so he would have catchers’ mitts. If it works for him, it certainly works for me.
One morning we played my keyboard together. He especially likes the bass notes. He banged with two hands as loud as he was able, and I held the sustain pedal down to make the sound last. “Sounds like thunder,” I suggested. “Funder, more funder,” he said excitedly. When he had created lots of sound, I held his hands with mine. “Let’s listen til we can’t hear the thunder any more.” And so we listened very quietly until the thunder disappeared. Then we did it again. And again. And again. After a few times, he banged and then listened with no prompting from me. Then we added rain to our thunderstorm — playing the high notes very lightly with one or two fingers. Again we listened. “Rain and funder,” he said.
As we played together, I began to wonder what’s happened to the creativity we had as children. When we enjoyed the boxes and wrapping paper more than the actual gift? When we could make an entire village out of blocks? When we could make forts and caves with blankets and tables? When we looked at the clouds and saw elephants and ships? When the couch pillows became mountains to climb with our trucks and cars?
Perhaps our creativity got squashed in school, when the standards were set for our performance: color in the lines, draw your letters exactly this way, follow the game rules set by adults. Perhaps it’s then that we learned our creative way didn’t fit the norm.
Recommended remedy: Get down on the floor with a young child and play according to their ideas. Let them tell you how to play. Then have fun.
Perhaps you’ll find your creativity again.
Until next Tuesday . . .