My kids were working on math work books over Fall break one morning (their white Dad made them do this, I promise, I don’t care if they suck at math), when Lizzy tattled on her brother,
“Mom, Hayden is thrusting his sharp pencil at me!”
For those uninitiated in dealings with children, these kinds of complaints are just the language of daily life. It’s routine, if you will. We might occasionally raise an eyebrow if there’s talk of blood, but even then, we finish updating the Facebook status first.
Without batting an eyelash, I distractedly but pointedly admonish,
“Um, don’t do that, Hayden.”
Before getting back to my work, I suppress a little smile.
First of all – thrust? That’s a really funny word coming from a 10 year old girl. I hate that it reminds me of a, *ahem*, romantic scene in a foul audio book we listened to last summer on a road trip with my MOTHER-IN-LAW. That’s a story for another time. Well, actually, there’s no story, that happened, and it was just as awkward as you can imagine. Perverted allusion aside, I felt a small pride at my daughter’s vocabulary. We have been working on this, how to describe things with better words in order to communicate more clearly. He thrusted the pencil – paints a clear picture.
I was also amused by my own reaction. As parents, we become programmed to respond in standard quips:
“Don’t snack before dinner,”
“Pick up your room,”
“No iPod right now,”
“Don’t thrust sharp pencils at your sister!”
And if we’re not frustrated by having to repeat the same thing for the gazillionth time, we just laugh at the ridiculous-ness of things we thought we’d never say. I also don’t think I really mean it. I don’t really want my wildly imaginative 7 year old boy to stop drumming up silly shenanigans. I want him to carry into action where his inquisitive mind takes him. Thrust the pencil, see what happens! I want him to get into trouble with his Dad or myself, so he feels the remorse and consequences of hurting others. I want my children to try and fail often so they never see failure as a reason to stop trying.
To sum up: I demand obedience from my children while expecting them to break my rules. (Therapy is in the future, we are saving for it.)
It’s the way of the world. Nobody ever became exceptional by sticking to all the rules. Creatives learn the rules so they can better break them; putting just the right amount of pressure to stretch the boundaries without snapping into pieces. The art of reining in unimaginable possibilities within agreed upon constraints open up space for change.
Where is your imagination taking you? What risks are you planning to take? The world is your oyster! Go ahead, thrust the pencil! But don’t do it.
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