My daughter’s minor basketball injury sent us hurrying to the 24 hr walk-in clinic. But the tension in the waiting room melted away thanks to a spontaneous outburst of creative play.
Ten year-old Natalie sat between my wife and me – staring at her disturbingly swollen finger. Her nervousness and discomfort silenced her usual playful self.
She watched as I picked up six pages of forms. And then it began. Innocently enough. But once it did – there was no turning back.
First category on the form: Name
My daughter saw me write: Jonathan Flash Furst.
Natalie looked puzzled. She turned to my wife, “Mommy, daddy wrote the NAME OF OUR DOG for his middle name!!!!!” My wife rolled her eyes – as I proceeded to the next box:
Describe Location and description of injury:
I sketched a stick-figure hand with a cartoon-like throbbing finger. Natalie laughed – took the pen & drew a HUGE BOLD ARROW pointing to the injury!
We broke into laughter as a young well-dressed woman hurried ZIP-ZIP-ZIP into the clinic while talking into her cell phone. At the check-in window – she tapped her phone against it and demanded to know: “How long is this going to take – because I have to fly in two days!” Before the receptionist could answer, Ms. Zip-Zip-Zip spun away from the window and continued her cell phone conversation, “I’ll call you back when these people get me checked in.” She turned to the receptionist, “I haven’t slept in two days. My ear is oozing something. (pause) Well not right now. But it was!”
As she sat down with forms, she made a second call and repeated everything she said in the first call – but louder. Finally she finished. There was silence in the clinic.
But not for long…
I picked up my cell phone, “My heart blew a valve,” and then – just a little louder, “it was bleeding all over everything – WHAT A MESS AND HOW COULD I CLEAN IT UP!”
I saw Natalie’s face light up – tuning in to what we’ve done since she could string sentences together: creating a story on the fly.
She took the cell phone from me & played on: “…and to stop the bleeding they put a band aid on it. Of course it didn’t hold –WHO USES A BAND AID!!!…..” And on she went with the story – far beyond what I could imagine…
While a walk-in clinic is not the best locale for creative play– it did get me thinking about several basic points about creativity and how we interact with our kids:
- Look for opportunities to use your creative skills – playfully.
- Engage in structured activities for exercising your creativity – BUT also open up to spontaneous opportunities where you can create on the fly.
- Exercising creative thinking skills = Exercising your imagination.
Run with the spontaneity. Natalie and I leapt on a spontaneous moment. An imaginative dance took form. And isn’t it ironic for parents that once we open up and “really play” – this experience feels so familiar because it reminds us of the young kid in us – who had such open access to imagination and creativity.
-imaginary friends, dress-up games, Barbies, creating tents & forts in our rooms or the woods, amazing buildings with blocks and Legos, designing worlds & scenarios with small toy figures and on and on….
As parents it so much fun to share sparks of creativity with our kids.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” ― Maya Angelou
Entries on our blog have listed many cool activities you can share with your kids.
Keep the creativity flowing! Share activities you do with your kids on our Dads for Creativity blog:
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Thanks for the post Jonathan, your story put a smile on your face and clearly made a waiting room in a clinic more appealing to the average 10 year old. I completely agree with everything you’ve shared, and have begun to appreciate how interwoven storytelling is to creative play.