The kids’ winter break is too long, I think they would agree.
I had one good free idea left. Recycle Freestyle! It’s not a new concept to them, and I’ve been saving for months. Saving Junk.
Before lunch, I gathered all the plastic tops, egg cartons, six-pack holders, tubes, rings, tiny tins, cotton fluff, tape, glue, and markers and told them to get ready.
After lunch, I put on tropical music, emptied the last bag of junk, and we spread out on the dining room floor. So much squealing delightful possibility! It was fun! At first.
Thing 1 (10) has the best imagination, and after five or six minutes clipping little plastic milk-spout pull-tabs, he switched projects and pulled together the pieces to make toilet-paper-roll binoculars attached to a gold-trimmed red velvet ribbon that would serve as a headband and binocular holder. He even cut out earholes. So cool.
Thing 2 (7) loves to make gifts, and went to work looking for textures to collage together. One for me, one for dad (below).
Poor Thing 1. Nothing worked out the way he’d expected.
The scotch tape wasn’t clear, it was frosted; it wasn’t holding the cardboard rolls to the velvet ribbon very well, and the rolls kept sagging: “All I can see is my feet!”
Throwing cardboard didn’t look very satisfying from where I was sitting. Thing 1 was tagged with Sensory Processing Disorder and Sensory Integration Dysfunction — years ago. And this looked like that, rearing it’s inconvenient head, but cured with some soothing laughter and reassuring pig-piling onto Thing 1.
He got back to it and made these arm-armour pieces later in the day. But this is also a teaching and reflective moment. About freedom and vision and expectations.
So much possibility is there, at our feet. It seems somehow almost intellectually mandatory to NOT see it all, to follow the instructions that we find or are given. If we were to recognize it all with complete freedom, perhaps we wouldn’t know where to start, how to organize it in our minds, prioritize the materials, reject the pieces that don’t fit, and build… something. This is a fine example of Disorder and Dysfunction being used to mask nonconformity. It’s necessary and I get it… But there IS also a flip side. Thing 1 can see, really SEE everything. That filter that saves us from chaos puts limits on us, too. My very special task is to teach Thing 1 how to keep his expectations in check, how to organize and prioritize all he sees and feels; simultaneously I feel it is infinitely important to protect and encourage his vision and his special ability to see and feel things acutely. And I feel strongly that there is a deep lesson here, about learning and freedom and vision and creativity and labels, and that lesson is meant for me and for me to share with you. Thanks for reading!
November 2014: This great article from Teacher Tom helps see this situation in a new light: the importance of limits. Read it and leave me a comment on your thoughts.
Other posts about sensory play include: Here, Feel This Fruit