One reason creativity is declining is that middle-class children are put into such rigid, structured environments from the time they’re born – Baby Einstein, “Mommy & Me” gym classes, baby swimming classes, toddler soccer, dance classes, martial arts, T-ball… you name it. Some kids don’t even get a moment to breathe, let alone create.
I didn’t do any of that crap. Okay, (one season of T-ball and soccer for each kid, and then nada.) One time this other mother was pushing me, pretty much implying it was maternal malpractice that my kids didn’t play organized sports and that they would suffer for it. I sniped back: “I guess maybe the kids who aren’t that smart need a lot of extra stimulation.” (Mea culpa. That was mean.)
But as I’ve said before, my kids had no “insert battery, turn on and watch” toys. They had stuff to build with: Erector sets, Lincoln logs, blocks, Legos. They had crayons, clay and paints — and lots of paper. Oh, and music, too. They seem to have turned out smart enough — they tested out with 150-plus IQs.
You don’t actually need to have all that stuff, although it probably helps. But I remember sitting in the dirt for hours, making imaginary cities out of mud, stones, sticks and bottle caps. It was huge fun for me, and the most important thing my mom did was to leave me alone. She didn’t say, “Susie, get out of that dirt and wash your hands!” She didn’t decide I should be doing something else, she gave me the time I needed to imagine. But then, she wasn’t making plans to get her five-year-old into Harvard, either.
What about you? Were you a creative child? Do you still have those dreams? Do you support them by making time for creativity?