Last night I allowed Joey, who will be 4 at the end of January, to use the kid scissors, paper and some glue. He kept himself so entertained (and out of trouble) that I told him he could "do it again tomorrow". This was the only way he would agree to get ready for bed, since he was having so much fun. As soon as he saw me this morning, he went right over to my desk where we set aside his supplies, and started jumping up and down asking for them. He has now been sitting at the dining table for nearly an hour, happy as a clam as he expresses his creativity.
I cannot help but wonder at the amount of creative stifling that has gone on due to my hesitancy (and that of other mothers, I am sure) to allow my children freer reign with creative outlets. Perhaps I squashed the next Michelangelo when I didn't let my older kids play with Play-dough because I didn't want to deal with the mess? Well, *that* one I am not as sorry about, although I have been thinking that I should get some of the malleable goo for them to experience. It is better than the modeling clay that came with our homeschooling supplies. That stuff makes a horrible mess!
All of this falls under one of my favorite sayings: Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things. I *very* firmly believe the second half of that statement to be of utmost importance. Yes, I would deal with my children when they are sweaty and dirty, especially if the are hurt, but that does not mean I would sit snuggle with them when they are perfectly able to go take a shower first. This also goes for my hubby.
The second part of that statement is actually the more important. Not worrying about the little things that go wrong or are outside our plans is the part that I know I have struggled with over the years. Part of that, I am sure, is due to being mildly OCD, part also due to battling depression as I have for years, and maybe even partly due to the fact that I am the middle of seven children and had the good fortune of having my own room most of my childhood and therefore became used to having my immediate surroundings arranged to my own specifications. I cannot tell you how many times I rearranged my bedroom furniture when I felt I needed to change something or was feeling frustrated with my life. (I was a rather emotional teen.) The irony of me learning to relax with child number four is that the first three are often wound way too tight with him. "MOM!!! Did you say Joey could use GLUE?!?" "Yes, I did. Leave him be." "Mom! Joey isn't using small dots of glue, they are HUGE!" "Joey, I said little dots, remember?" "OK, Mommy." "But...Mom! He made a mess!" "He can clean it up with a baby wipe." "But..." They always seem so frustrated that I am not freaking out when they are themselves.
As if on cue, emotions are once again flaring, including the youngest, so it is time to go calm nerves and soothe feelings. Perhaps I will fix another cup of tea...