“Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
It’s been a week since Mina’s Wonderland Tea Party. Today, as I sit and drink my own tea, I think about what it means for a child to be in Wonderland, among magic and delight. Children live in world of Imagination and Wonder. If they think it, it is possible. Somehow, along the way, we adults tell them to stop daydreaming and get serious – “Life is hard and you must work, not play.” Bit by bit, we kill that magical essence in the name of “growing up”. It makes me so sad to see kids not have the opportunity to be creative because there is “no time” for it. I hear it all the time from so many people: Kids need to be in school, learning…they need structure…how will they get ahead if they play all day..etc, etc.
First off, I do believe that kids need a structure so that they can feel safe to let their imagination flow. I feel sometimes that we parents have this parenting thing backwards. We expect the kids to slowly enter OUR grown up world because it is easier for us. I believe that children bring magic into the world and are here to remind us of what we have forgotten. They are here to invite US into their magical realm, to believe in things we can’t see. They embody love and acceptance of everyone. How did we allow ourselves, as a society, to lose this growing up?
I recognize that I am different than most moms the more I talk about how we organize and do the crazy things we do. Let’s take Mina’s party as an example. To start with, Mina and I sit and talk about her thoughts and plans for her party: She wants a wonderland tea party, her yogurt chai cake with printed decal, and she wants to give her guests gifts. Yes, she wants to give her guests gifts because they should feel loved too. She comes up with a project that entails decorating stuffed animals. This would combine a craft project and gift all in one. Perfect! Simple and easy to execute.
When others would ask about Mina’s party, I would tell them this and they would look at me with curious expressions and mouths wide:
- “You, who are so creative, are only doing THAT?! Are you feeling ok?”
- “You aren’t doing a huge cake, decorated like something from Wonderland?!”
- “Mina is running her crafty project? You don’t know how it will come out yet?”
- “How come you aren’t doing other activities? Won’t the kids be bored?”
Yep, I am a simple girl who listens to how her little one wants her world to be magical on her special day. Simplicity allows space for magic to come in and play with us. Because there was no set creative agenda, kids were free to take the supplies and let their imagination run. One little boy asked if he could cut open his shark toy and take out the stuffing. Of course, I said. To which, he look up at me, curious and amazed: REALLY? Cool! and I can stuff my scorpion inside and sew it up? Absolutely, said I!
This is how out of the box thinking begins. It begins with allowing kids time and space to play, use their imagination, and create. Take the time to enter their magical world and have fun. It’s time to begin cultivating creativity again. It starts with you, one parent at a time, who can let go of what others will think and experience your child’s imagination in full color! These memories will be the imprinted and passed down as wonderful stories as each generation grows.