This post is not what it looks like. It’s not another cat-poop post. Well, not completely.
Yesterday, I poured the last of a plastic bag of organic sugar into mashed berries to make freezer jam. As the bag emptied, my first thought involved the next use for the empty bag: it’s just right for holding cat poop after it’s scooped and before it ends up in the outside can. That’s my first thought about every plastic bag of a certain size. The green onion bags are too narrow — I’m likely to miss when making the transfer. Some produce bags have ventilation holes: great for veggies but disastrous for litter box detail. I’m not always this litter-box-product focused, but the six tiny kittens I took in three weeks ago are no longer so tiny. They are prodigious eaters and excretors, and cleaning up after them is quite a project.
But this isn’t a cat-poop post. My children have brought out my creative side. Not the artsy-craftsy kind of creative, although my skills there certainly have increased with time. Give me some fleece, a pair of sweats, scissors, and a hot-glue gun, and I’ll turn out a passable Halloween costume: a downy-headed woodpecker, a killer bee, the neighbor’s cat, or a uranium atom. Parenting itself brings out creativity, and I don’t think we give ourselves (or our parents) enough credit for that.
Creativity helps us out in difficult parenting situations. My younger has a vivid imagination and a passion for cats. I’ve talked him down many emotional cliff channeling that world, using the voices of the cats to humor him before he plunges into a tantrum. Of course he’s tumbled into that abyss plenty of time, and creative self-calming techniques have preserved my sanity during those times. Putting in some earplugs while he’s at top volume allows me some auditory buffering, but retreating to the bathroom, water and fan on, for a few minutes can also do the trick. The worst thing to do is to fall into that abyss with him. Two over-the-edge people makes for quite an emotional mess.
Homeschooling enhances my creativity, and the sheer time I spend with my kids increases my need for it. Want to convince mom to let you get gerbils? Make a well-researched power-point presentation outlining the needs of gerbils, how you can meet those needs, and what expected annual costs are. Math, computer skills, writing, and research covered with minimal pain. Not the way I planned to teach those subjects, but he still gained the skills. (And he got the gerbils.) Child unwilling to practice spelling words/time tables/spanish vocabulary? Let him teach that boring stuff to the kittens. It’s not what I had planned, but the words or math gets learned.
Creativity often flows when our expectations aren’t met. When we’re forced out of our usual thought pattern, when the same old thing just won’t work, we can either sulk/pout/scream, or we can think differently. We can surprise ourselves and maybe even bring some grace and peace to a tough situation. Or perhaps, we can just clean up the cat box.
Let’s make this a conversation. How has creativity brought grace or just some order to your life?