Thursday, December 6, 2012

Saying yes to kids and their big ideas

Imagine my surprise when I walked into Brady's after-school care to find he'd enlisted two friends to make a dozen invitations to a "Big Invention Party" to build a "shrink ray" from 6:30 to 7:30 the next night (a Wednesday night!). He'd handed them out to all the kids, told their parents, some of whom were perplexed and asking the teachers if it was real.

It was not! My smart creative boy had thought it all up by himself, planned it and promised snacks and the movie 2012 and soccer and football.

Wow. When I told him that he could not plan a party like that without asking his parents and certainly we couldn't have people over on a school night, he was just CRUSHED, nearly in tears. In the melodramatic tone only a 7-year-old can muster, he said, "It was all for NOTHING."

So... I got out my date book and showed him that I wrote "plan invention party" on Jan. 1, 2013. We'd start the year making plans for it and set a date. In the meantime, we're collecting any items we run across that would work great to have in a bin for an "invention party". Each kid will be able to make an invention and take it home. If they get bored, they can play soccer or football. No special reason for the party other than my wonderful kid thought of it.

A few days later, he brings me the following pieces of paper:

He told me he wanted to build a stick house. This was easier to do. We started gathering sticks, though he informed me he was the "controller" and I was the "worker" and pounding them in the ground.We work on it for about 30 minutes a night after school because it gets dark so quickly this time of year. More on weekends. He now wants it incorporated into the big invention party next year somehow. We've lined it with leaves and will put a sheet down and a roof. He made a sign that says, "Keep Off. Personal Property."

Here's the result of our first day of work:

Kids hear "no" a lot. They don't yet understand why they can't have dessert before dinner, stay up late, go outside without no shoes or coat, have a puppy or kitten right this minute, stay home from school, skip writing thank you notes, on and on. There is so much they want that they can't have, but that's life. It's our job to teach them that and how to deal with it.

But sometimes, there is a wonderful circumstance when you can say yes. Even if it seems ridiculous or challenging or inconvenient when life is so busy and full already. Especially important if it's an idea they came up with all by themselves. Can we have an invention party? Sure! Not today, but let's plan one! Can we build a house of sticks in the garden? Why not?

I want him to know I value his ideas and I want to encourage that creativity. For him, right now, all things are possible. I'm hoping that seeing them come to fruition will give him a sense of confidence in his abilities. There is such joy in being able to bring their imagination to life, not just for them but for us too.

So if you can, say yes, and if you can't say yes right now, get out the calendar and plan a day when you can. And most of all, have fun!

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