The World Needs Creativity

A recent conversation we had in Emily’s first-grade classroom:

Me: Emily I love your art project.

Emily: Me too! Except I needed more glitter.

Emily’s Teacher: Oh Emily, I don’t think there’s enough glitter in the world for you.

Give my daughter a coffee stirrer, tape, and a pinch (or bag) of glitter and in a few minutes she’ll create a masterpiece. A day rarely goes by when she doesn’t gather a completely unlikely collection of supplies to make a garland, a boat, a castle, a game board, an outfit for a doll, etc., etc. She’s a sparkly, rainbowy version of MacGyver. Her only roadblock on the path to uncensored creativity is that I occasionally refuse to supply her with the right tools. For example, when she came out of her room and in her most innocent voice asked for honey I denied her request without finding out why honey was needed (my lips instinctively form the word “no” when honey is mentioned by Emily). But an artist needs a little struggle, right?

I’m envious of my daughter’s ability to create without judging. When I create something I enjoy the process – the shopping for supplies perhaps being my favorite part – but then I’m quick to judge the finished product. It’s rarely what I’d envisioned it to be. Emily loves her final product with the same enthusiasm (read lots and lots of enthusiasm) that she has while knee-deep in glitter during the process of creation.

I’m also envious of her ability to see the world for its potential and not its reality. When I look at a coffee filter and pom-poms I see a tool for brewing coffee and craft supplies. Emily sees a clown hat or a 3-D rainbow or a fluffy boat for a doll.

My creativity is sadly not too original, when I want inspiration I tend to look at the results of a Google search instead of opening my eyes to what’s around me. Emily wakes up with her imagination overflowing to the point she can barely stand a minute without creating.

When I don’t understand how something works I’m okay with that as long as it does work. When I see a lack of beauty in my home I decide it’s a small price to pay for less clutter. When I see Emily gathering her eclectic mix of supplies my first tendency is normally to gather my own supplies – the cleaning supplies I’ll need for the post-creation fallout.

I hope my creative spark is not completely snuffed out but just buried deep beneath words like responsibility, laundry, career, and housework. (If anything can stifle creativity it’s a pile of unmatched socks.) But I know for sure that Emily’s creativity is a roaring fire. I also know that if anyone in this world has the power to either feed her flame or slowly diminish its intensity – it’s me. And I don’t want my focus on the finished product, my tiny bit of Type-A attitude (okay, not so tiny) to insidiously dampen her creative spirit.

This summer I read an article in Newsweek about the decline of American creativity. It really bothered me because advances in science, engineering, medicine (dare I even say foreign policy and health care?) require creative minds. Our world needs people who ask endless questions and think in ways that shut-up-and-color, follow-the-directions minds do not. Our world needs Emily!

So today, on our third consecutive snow day, I’m going to spread supplies out on our kitchen table and stand out of the way. Even better, I may join in the effort! And we will create. Google will have no part of the process. The ideas will be our own. The finished products will be colorful, uncensored, sparkly, messy, possibly sticky, and free from judgment. They’ll be beautiful.

The best art is done in a ball gown.
Shockingly glitter glue was the first thing grabbed!
An artistic vision in pink.

13 thoughts on “The World Needs Creativity

  1. “What the world needs now is more glitter glue!” Isn’t there a song about that?

    Fun post, Amy! I’m glad you’re allowing Emily to explore her creativity!


    P.S. Your services are humbly requested over at my blog (see today’s post Comments)…

  2. “She’s a sparkly, rainbowy version of MacGyver.” That made me smile.

    Can’t wait to see some of the treasures created on the third snow day. They do get so excited about what they make.

    1. Her favorite treasure of the day was a doll skateboard taped to the bottom of her Hello Kitty slipper. (Yes, slipper singular – she couldn’t find the other one). She wore it most of the day and called it her scooter slipper.

  3. Pinned to my refrigerator are perhaps a half-dozen glittered items. Two of them were from my granddaughter; once as a thank-you for her seventh birthday and the other as a thank-you for her twenty-first birthday two days ago. I treasure them both.

  4. I have the artistic ability of a door knob, so I find the creativity of kids fascinating. Thanks to Photoshop and other Adobe products I feel mildy creative these days. I was always a disaster with glitter and used to be the kid who ate the glue.

  5. What a cute post. I feel somewhat stuck between adulthood’s sense of creativity and that of Emily’s. Half the time I create things almost too bizarre for my friends to recognize them as a greeting card (oh, I make cards, etc). Then sometimes I am way too traditional.

    I love the line about MacGyver! I wanna be the MacGyver of crafts….hahah

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