Monday, July 8, 2013

A Lesson from the Cat in the Hat

A few weeks ago, I took my daughter to see Seussical Jr. at a local theatre. The show is a scaled-down version of the Broadway show that celebrates all things Dr. Seuss.

The plot follows a young boy as he uses his imagination to explore the world around him. One of the songs near the beginning of the show is set with the boy taking a bath. He starts imagining all sorts of wondrous things, like there's a river under the tub that connects to the sea, and he's suddenly swimming among amazing and strange fish!

Until his parents walk in - Mr. and Mrs. Mayor.

                  Mr. Mayor
                  "JoJo! The tub's overflowed on the floor!
                  The water is running right out of the door!"

                  Mrs. Mayor
                  "The ceiling is peeling! You've flooded the den!
                  Oh, JoJo, I think you've been thinking again!"

Ugh! There it was. Sitting in a dark theatre, surrounded by children and other parents, watching woozits, and listening to bamboozles, I was convicted by a cat in a hat.

                   Because I know what I know
                   As sure as that cat
                   I've squelched the imagination
                  Of my child like that

Oh, I'm not always guilty of being the Grinch. Sometimes I dive right in to her creativity. Like the time we received a big package with tons of foam peanuts and she threw them in the air like snow. I joined in and crushed them to enhance the snow effect. It looked great! We laughed and sang as we threw the snow into the air. (Side note: I don't recommend trying this at home - who knew packing peanuts would be so staticy and impossible to clean up when you crush them - clog the vacuum, stick to the broom...)

But sure as Sam's eggs are green,  I've walked in on my child using her imagination and either paid no attention - or worse - got on to her for the messy results. Come on, tell me you've been there too! At the end of a long day when you feel like you've thunked all you can thunk...

I left the theatre determined to find a mess to get into with my daughter. And to be more engaged with the consistent, daily use of her imagination. I'm not saying I'm always successful. Or even that there are not times you should stop or postpone some of the activities a creative streak can inspire. But I'm trying to be better. Because, not only is imagination the way a child explores the world - it's a pretty good way for adults to do so too!

                  Oh, the thinks you can think
                  Think and wonder and dream
                  Far and wide as you dare!

Have you been guilty of squelching your child's creativity? What are your favorite ways to encourage them to explore their imagination?

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