I’m interrupting our regular programming to chat about creativity and children. It has absolutely zero to do with getting your business ready for the holidays but everything to do with our lives as creatives and the compromises we sometimes make on our journey as parents and people until something comes along to wake us up.
Before I had children I knew exactly what I wanted for them. I wanted them to never feel bad about being different. I was a different kind of kid and growing up in an inner city the 9 year old girl who would rather read adult fantasy novels by herself is always the odd kid out. I wanted my children to be allowed to shine in their own individual way. I spent years unlearning the self-doubt that I learned in elementary school and promised myself my children would never be in the same position.
Fast forward a decade, a million decisions and choices later, so many of the things I would “never” do as a parent have already been crossed off the list. At the top of my parenting neverdo list was: “No public school ever.” I was going to be one of those blissful Amanda Soule type homeschooling mothers. We would spend our days exploring the woods, doing art, learning through play and our nights crocheting by the fire while bread baked and my children played with their handmade toys.
While I stayed true to so many of the things I wanted for my girls-breastfeeding them, cloth diapering, natural toys, organic food, a life full of music, dance and creativity- this year I sent my daughter to public school because it was the easy thing to do. The first year Ila was in school I sent her to the most incredible school ever. Since I don’t drive we took 11 buses a day (yes eleven, no I’m not exaggerating) with my then baby daughter in her sling, to take her there and we paid over 7,000 in tuition for her to go. It was a hard choice when there was a school a 5 minute drive away but we did it for two years. This year we couldn’t manage it and we enrolled Ila in the “best” public school in our city even though my heart was yelling NO at the top of its lungs. I was afraid public school would dim her light-which is so radiant:
At her school they don’t paint. They don’t dance. They barely sing. No one plays with the children to help them access their imaginations. I helped out with the Halloween class party in my sugar skull get up and it was the saddest thing ever. Their “party” took place at their desks, there was no music, the kids had no chance to play or interact, they were shushed when they laughed too loud. Last week I had my ten minute parent teacher interview and the teachers told me that Ila was a textbook case of ADHD because she had difficulty focusing on her work and if I did not want to medicate her then they basically didn’t have any ideas for how to help her function better in the classroom. This is the best public school available!
The work she “can’t” focus on consists mainly of pixelated worksheets from the internet. How boring! Ila can sew, crochet, write pages of stories, has imaginary ghost friends named Ghostie and Ghostlina (who apparently are currently on a ten day vacation and missed terribly) and does art like the picture above. She has a head full of songs and a heart full of compassion and more creativity then seems possible for one small body to contain. But because she can’t be bothered to sit quietly in her seat there is obviously something wrong with her. Something so wrong they suggest medication. I was immediately reminded of this video I watched well before Ila was school aged on how schools kill creativity. All children deserve to dance.
I’m not sure yet what my solution is but I can’t have my child feeling less then the other students who obey easily. Like there is something wrong with her because she doesn’t fit the average. I have spent my whole adult life refusing to fit myself into a box just so other people could better understand me and encouraging others to take sledgehammers to the boxes that don’t fit their dreams. How can I possibly condemn her to mediocrity? Isn’t that the very thing that many of us creative entrepreneurs are working against? Sometimes I forget that we are the minority because we have built such an incredibly supportive creative community but so much of the world doesn’t seek excellence but sameness. Its not enough to embrace our own differences, we need children who are taught that who they are is okay, different is beautiful and their imaginations are the key to creating a better world for us all. If you can’t imagine it you can’t create it.
This whole situation was like being hit in the face with a pail of cold water. I need to make some changes so that I can give my girls their chance to shine. I want their childhoods to be filled with play and ways to express their creativity so that they love their “job” as much as I do. A child’s job is to be loved, explore, laugh, learn and grow-this cannot be done sitting numbly at a desk or by always doing what you are told. What do you think? Is nurturing our children’s creativity more important than teaching them obedience? If you were in my shoes what would you do?