Join me in a wee creative exercise?
I spend an hour and a half every Friday morning in preschool with my kid. It's a parent-participation preschool, and because parents are in the classroom, there's a requirement that we attend a monthly meeting with an educational component. Always cynical, I was wary of this at the beginning of the school year, but I've grown to love the social time with new friends, and most of the sessions have really been quite useful.
This week, the speaker was a family therapist who specializes in positive approaches to dealing with negative behaviour. Not a day goes by that I'm not grateful for my son's generally happy and compliant disposition, so I happily knitted while letting her words flow by.
But then something she said struck me. She said that the single most important thing she has parents do with their kids is to spend ten or fifteen minutes every day in “special playtime”. During this short time, the kid gets to be in charge. He gets to choose the activity, drive it, change it, move on. The parent's job during this time is to essentially give a running commentary on what the child is doing. “Doggy's going down the slide now. Now doggy's eating the Lego guy.” Whatever.
The playtime is special because it's unlike much of the rest of playtime, when a parent might be folding laundry, doing some half-assed work, talking on the phone, thinking about making dinner, whatever.
The idea is that even just a little bit of this communicates to your child that they're important. That you're interested and that you think what they're doing is worthy of your undivided attention.
That's not the part that struck me. What struck me is that this would be a fabulous way to approach one's own creative practice.
Fifteen minutes a day with you in charge. Not a client. Not a customer. Not a boss or an audience. No “shoulds”. No “musts”.
Just you, doing what you please, creatively. Letting the creative part of you know it's important. Giving it license to be silly. Or serious. Or to eat the Lego guy.