Noelle Kirchner, M.Div., is a Presbyterian minister and mother of two boys. As they wrestle on the floor, she enjoys wrestling with her manuscripts. She writes for Huff Post Parents, the TODAY Show Parenting Team, and has been a repeat guest author at in(courage). You can find her on her blog, where she writes about faith and parenting, and on Twitter and Facebook.
As the summer continues, the task of keeping idle hands and fingers busy does too. On the days when it is too hot to go outside, on the days when our errands have taken less time than anticipated, on the days when no play date has been planned, what will we do in those moments?
I came across a poem the other day that struck me. I know sometimes I can get too busy to utter yes to my children's requests. This is especially the case when those requests involve something time consuming or messy. I can get so preoccupied with keeping a schedule or my home somewhat clean that I miss opportunities to laugh and play with my children - and even to be a kid again myself. Know the feeling? Perhaps you will appreciate reading this too:
Let there be Yes
I say no to them all the time:
No, you may not eat candy bars for breakfast,
color pictures on the carpet,
wear your tutu to the store again.
And stop blowing bubbles in your milk,
or abandoning your warm bed
after I've tucked you in.
Perhaps it's the wisdom of age,
or that this is not their full-time gig,
but their grandmothers have another way:
Yes, let's make projects with plenty of glitter and paint,
matching costumes for you and your bear,
hot chocolate for watching movies
on a Saturday morning in June.
I decide to try it myself,
tentatively - Sure, I suppose we can
bring out the modeling clay today.
So we spread an old vinyl cloth on the table,
and dump the box that holds baggies of red and black,
blue, green, and yellow. From my post in the kitchen,
I watch them settle in to their work.
It's quiet; no one complains
of boredom or hunger
or cunningly-orchestrated breaches of room security
carried out by little sisters. The only requests
are for assistance rolling up an errant sleeve
or for a toothpick to carve out fine details
and at last, the artist's signature.
As she bends over her masterpiece
to scratch the letters of her name,
I understand what it is my mother must know
when she says yes to these young creators:
we are wired to make, and we can make
trouble, or we can make goodness and art
and meaning and sustenance and play.
By Sarah Dunning Park, Author of What It Is Is Beautiful
It's amazing that uttering the simple word yes can bring such joy and satisfaction to our children. When we provide them with the space and opportunity for creative play no matter what their age, we promote their exploration and self-expression. We are mimicking an older generation's model. And we can even honor God.
Our Creator certainly enjoys creating, for the world around us is far too intricate to believe otherwise. And just as we can say yes to our children, God says yes to us as we seek to fulfill our callings in unique and expressive ways. I have to wonder if embracing our children's creativity can unlock our ability to discern God moving in our own lives anew.
"You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you" (Nehemiah 9:6, NIV).
Prayer: Oh God our Creator, we praise your amazing handiwork. May we honor your legacy by encouraging our children's creativity. As we help to unlock the world for them by fostering exploration, surprise us through our own discoveries. In Jesus' name, Amen.
So what are doing with your kids artistically this summer? I'd love to hear!