Wide awake at 2:30 am.
No really sure why.
As I sit in silence eating my first breakfast, I can't help but notice my son's creation. He has been calling it his fortress. It is positioned directly in front of the tv and it consists of various toys and items he had at his disposal.
Two Elmo chairs, a stuffed lion (Alex from Madagascar), a random castle-like toy,my wife's giant Thirty-One bag and Superman, who seems to be embarrassed by his role in all of this. But what caught my eye at this early hour was the fact that the base, or nesting area of this fort, is a Disney Princess sleeping bag.
Why you might ask?
Maybe it is still early and maybe the caffiene has yet to kick in. But I can't help but marvel at the random assortment of "things" my four-year old son has chosen to construct this fort. To be more specific, the juxtaposition of Superman and the Disney Princess blanket has me wondering.
How much longer will he have this unlimited toolbox?
How much longer will his creations be limitless?
Let's be real. How many of us have ever looked at child's creation and thought, what In The World Is...?
We have no idea what it is.
But they do!
In fact, they often name it.
We nod, congratulate them and then go back to what we were doing.
I am guessing that in a couple of years, if not sooner, my son's creative toolbox will be lighter. I realize that as he gets older he will gravitate towards more "age-appropriate" toys. But I also think that his infinity will have shrunk. No longer would he even consider using a Disney Princess blanket or "Mommy's" bag.
What I witness is that as children get older, their imagination shrinks and their creativity begins to disappear.
Because of us!
In his recent piece titled "Maker is Culture, Not a Space" Brian Aspinall nailed it. In it he made the following powerful statement:
"Maker" is more about culture and less about stuff.
Just imagine if I had limited my son to a set of Legos or Lincoln Logs. Or what if I had given him instructions? What if Steve Jobs had been given instructions or if he had been only allowed to use certain materials? Think of how different our world would be. Actually I don't think he would have stood for it. In a way, isn't that kind of what he did? He said screw the typical, the standard and the conventional. I'm using whatever I want to make something the world has never seen before. Do we ever give kids the opportunity to do the same?
I know one person that is. Laura Fleming. Her website Worlds of Making is nothing short of awesome! Take a look and see for yourself. Everything you could possibly need to not only get started making, but to soar. From online courses to books to Google Hangouts. It's all right there.
I will never forget my son's creation and I am so glad I thought to take a photo. Let's hope I get the chance to take many more. My daughter just turned 11 and her imagination and creativity are still immeasurable. She loves to cook and I'll be honest, I cringe many nights when I hear what she wants to make. The sink ends up being a mess. The counter is impossible to find. And I always end up stepping on various crumbs and crunchy things that are scattered all over the floor. I have to admit, a part of me wants to say no more! But she is making. Creating. Experimenting.
We have no right to steal our kids' creativity and imaginations just because someone once stole ours'. But we are doing it and it is time we stop.
The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.