Often as parents we mistakenly think (always with the sincerest intentions) that we best serve our children by busying them or entertaining them. Peggy O’Mara recently wrote “Boredom is the very cauldron of creativity.” This quote really struck me. Maybe it is because the actual word “cauldron” is so...mystical...or, more accurately, witchy. Yes, I thought, boredom is indeed the very cauldron of creativity. I was impacted.
It was a rainy Thursday morning, and both girls were home with me. I had a lot to accomplish for BLOOM, mostly on my computer. As a newly “working mom,” (What a silly term that is! What is the opposite of an oxymoron? *) who is still primarily working from home, I am learning to navigate the waters of balancing parenting and work, which is particularly challenging when it becomes necessary for the two to happen simultaneously. So, I set up my “mobile office” on the kitchen counter - laptop, notebook, pens, coffee (definitely not listed in order of importance)...and just as I sat down on the stool I heard the dreaded,
“Mama, I’m bored.”
I am not proud of this, but I will admit it...my first thought was, if I turn on the television I am virtually guaranteed the ability to work with limited disruption for as long as “George” keeps getting into trouble.
(Side bar - Why does The Man With The Yellow Hat keep leaving him unattended? Does he not notice a pattern?).
Then I paused and really considered this. Having to work from home is going to be a relatively frequent occurrence. Did I really want to set us all up for the expectation of television every time I pull out my computer? Then I remembered, “Boredom is the very cauldron of creativity” and I replied, “I have some work I need to do this morning. You two will have to find something to do to entertain yourselves for a while.” This was followed by fervent insistence that we are in desperate need of new art supplies. “You know,” I said, in my most enticing voice, “the paper recycling under the sink is just busting with interesting stuff. Maybe if you open it up, something might inspire you.” And so she opened the cabinet under the sink, and out cascaded cereal boxes, junk mail, newspapers, book jackets, a shoe box, egg cartons...what bounty!
Sure enough, after adding some random bits and pieces and glue into the mix, the girls were entertained for well over an hour. So, an hour that could have easily and mindlessly been passed with them in front of the television was instead spent being creatively engaged - and this was even accomplished (for the most part) independent of me. Beau (nearly six) in particular set her mind to creating something, and she used imagination and determination to bring it to life. She tried out many ideas that did not produce the results she wanted, but she persevered, and in the end she was so proud of herself and of what she had created.
Now, as a Waldorf-inspired mom, I would love to report that Beau made a nature diorama or a paper mache cow, but as we all know children imitate what they see, and so what she made was this...
Her very own computer. Later it became a cash register in her play store.
I realize I may not be this lucky every time I try to let creativity rise from the cauldron of boredom, but on this day I was so glad that I let the pot boil.
*Of course I had to look up “opposite of oxymoron”:
1a : needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word
(as in "working mom")