Spring Sunday: The Creation

Spring Sunday: The Creation

I have learned, through painful experience, never to dismantle The Creation too soon. So it sits there, in the center of the living room, or on a bedroom floor, this giant ball of detritus: broken pieces of toys, blankets, stuffed animals, miscellaneous Legos, drawings, and lots of tape. The Creation is usually wound together with the webbing of a headlamp or some kind of string, but still…there is always tape.

I love the “purpose” ascribed to each creation. They do things you could never imagine by looking at their elements: they are time traveling machines that deliver you to ancient Egypt, machines that shoot lasers and battle monsters. To me, they just look like a huge mess. A huge, annoying mess that I have to take apart and put away. But never too soon. If I don’t wait the requisite few days, and even then if I do not do so gingerly and with lots of gentle pleading to the 4-year-old creator, I’m in for some trouble. The screaming, crying, “I hate you! You’re so mean!” kind of tantrum that really stings.

And I get it. In his 4-year-old world, he is the creator and I am the destroyer. He is building gigantic and very photo(70)important things, painstakingly and with noble intent. And I am demolishing it. Why? Because I need to vacuum the floor. Because every once in a while The Creation will incorporate some perishable item that threatens to rot and smell in the middle of my house as it sits. These reasons, he believes, are not good enough.

So I practice patience. Sometimes The Creation is an elaborate, odd-looking costume that is worn and trails behind the creator like a pile of junk. Sometimes it is so expansive that it takes up most of the room. One Creation was so unwieldy (four feet high and about ten feet long) that, even though he begged for a whole day, I had to tell him that it was not possible to bring it to show-and-tell at preschool. I’m sorry, it’s too big, honey. It doesn’t fit in the car.

He sulked for days. In general, he’s a pretty easygoing child. But when it comes to The Creation, he has this kind of Aspergers-ish meltdown that can crack the emotional well-being of the whole family.

So we wait. We circumnavigate the time machines, the space ships that can travel to the sun because they need to refuel there, the elaborate traps for zombies and skeletons. We take subtle cues about when his interest wanes with each construction, and covertly disassemble it. Because I may be “the destroyer” when it comes to The Creation, but I never want to discourage those brilliant flashes of imagination that are responsible for it. I don’t want to extinguish his creativity, no matter how messy it gets. Who knows? Someday maybe he’ll make a real time machine, and travel back in time and see his 4-year-old self and his harried mother, and say “thanks.”



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