Today, we’re pleased to welcome guest poster Glenn McCarty. I don’t know Glenn, but he’s a writer, a Creative Writing teacher, and his kids love Legos. What else is there? Thank you for sharing this post with us, Glenn! –Sam
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Every day around 12:30, my 5 year old, who will start kindergarten next week, retreats from the busyness of the day to his room for a parent-mandated “rest time.” My 3 year old still naps, but he (the 5 year old) doesn’t, and frankly, Mom and Dad were more reluctant than he was to give up the midday siesta that is one of the perks of having preschool age kids.
On weekends, and during the summer, I usually rest or find some puttering-type job to do for a few minutes. Soon, though, I sneak across the hall, crack open his door, and slip quietly into his room, interrupting him from whatever task he’s occupied himself with for the past 30 minutes or so.
Usually, those projects involve Legos.
Sometimes he rearranges the body parts on his mini-figures, sticking a club in Lady Liberty’s hand –he calls it a “cave bat”– or stacking the heads on top of each other a dozen high until it looks like a Wonderland giraffe. Other times, he sets about combining his wheels and platforms, gears and hooks, tinkering and muttering until a new vehicle emerges from the pile of parts.
I love these times.
I love walking into his room, finding a spot on his bed amidst the bins of Legos, and asking, “What did you make?” He usually extends the creation proudly, then explains in detail what it is, how it works, and the name he’s given to it “space buggy,” “rocket boat,” something like that.
Equally special is wandering into his room at some other point in the day and finding one of these creations lying on its side on the carpet next to his dresser or bookcase, where it’s tumbled, completed, but forgotten. I love the casual way in which it’s not displayed prominently. It’s as if the finished project wasn’t the point. Now that it’s done, where’s the fun in that?
I think in our society there’s a tendency to make things to be shown off or posted on a Facebook wall, or “Instagrammed” immediately. I see parents take their kids to the beach just so they can take pictures of their kids at the beach, not so they can play in the sand and build castles and make moats and walls. Kids, beautifully, don’t have that mindset. Play is the purpose. So is creation.
There are so many lessons in these moments for me, the adult, the one who’s forgotten so much about the joy of creation, the pleasure of play, of trial and error, of attempts and mistakes.
I’ve learned it’s not always about the product, the purpose to be served by the created thing. Sometimes, it’s about getting so caught up in the creation nothing else matters for the minutes or hours inside the bubble of creation.
It’s also about time, about buffer, giving space and materials for creation to take place. At first, I think my son struggled with the mandate “you will rest now.” He didn’t want to sleep; he can’t read; there’s only so much looking out the window to be done. But eventually, the routine wasn’t restrictive, it was freeing. He had to be there, so he found things to do. And his creativity soared; his imagination expanded, and he began to produce space buggies.
And perhaps, the most important lesson the creation reveals the personality of the creator. It’s hard to put this into words, but when I pick up one of these mostly-completed projects, with its breakdancer/Viking hybrid driver, and the wheels and skids, and who knows what else he’s managed to stuff onto it, I see a guiding hand behind the scenes. I know there was a creator behind this created thing. There’s a personality visible to anyone who takes the time to look.
As a believer, I remember again that if I take the time to look around, I will see the hand of the Creator in all His creation. And as a parent, I understand that giving my kids space and time and materials to create will help them understand the value of good labor, rest, and, most importantly, the unique role of being a Creator and what it means to be proud of their creation. Maybe all these things will help them understand the often unfathomable spirit of a Creator who made them, loves them unconditionally, and is proud of them, and of the special bond between Creator and creation.
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Image by Paul Boekell
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Peter B says
Good words, Glenn. Thank you for joining us here.
Isn’t parenting a blessing? Just another one of His gifts!
James Witmer says
I can remember playing with Legos… or sticks… as a kid, when this was always true. Now I spend a lot of energy worrying, or trying not to worry, about the end result.
What if I could approach all of my work the way your little guy does? It’s particularly telling that he does this not only when he chooses to “be creative” but when it is mandated. So, being sent to work, like he gets sent to his room, doesn’t get me off the hook, now does it?
Good stuff. Thanks for sharing this.