The other morning my littlest daughter put on a full, Disney-esque princess show. She played all the characters with their different voices. She made up songs. There was a cat named Pearly. It went on for over an hour. And for most of that time, she was under a tiny table--this show was not for others. As long as she ignored me, she could continue in her own little world. But if I actually spoke to her or looked at her, it broke the magic spell and she couldn't really continue creating until she found her private space inside again.
It reminded me of my favorite Saturday Night Live performance of all time. Admittedly, I haven't watched SNL in more than 20 years (It's on way too late for me!), but I remember laughing hysterically when Gilda Radner played a little girl named Judy Miller playing alone in her room.
My question is, where does that magical creativity go when we grow up? As friends make fun of us and parents tell us to quiet down and not embarrass them, we bury that tiny voice deep inside somewhere where it, perhaps, turns into a bitter, evil troll under our bridge, trying to stop us from reaching the magical land of happiness. Or, if we are lucky, it becomes the little fairy on our shoulder whispering tips like "don't trust that guy or you'll loose your magic powers!" If we are really unlucky, it becomes the voice of an evil queen or king telling us that we are not good enough and should be banished to the dungeon of suffering--for some slight of humanity that no one even remembers--where we will be nibbled to death by rats.
Is this magical tiny voice perhaps the seat of creativity? Perhaps it's the people who hold on to this voice the hardest and clearest who become novelists and painters and big dreamers. I see one of my primary jobs as a parent as being not to crush that magical tiny voice in any way, to protect it, nurture it, and guide it to fruition of some sort (what that is is up to each person, not my choice!). Often, as a parent, that means allowing hours of unstructured playtime, letting kids play alone in their rooms or under tables without interference. That works for me, too, since I get that time to myself, as well! It's a win-win parenting situation.
But sometimes, I think it's my kids' job to remind me that that tiny voice still exists inside of me. Just because I'm all grown up doesn't mean I can't tap into that magic. In fact, I think I must tap into it to remain vitally alive.
Excuse me while I go up to my room...
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com