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    Creative or destructive?

    “One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making new discoveries.”

    A.A. Milne

    Last Christmas we bought a gorgeous, second-hand Plan dollhouse for the girls.  It was in mint condition when we bought it, and our daughters have kept it in wonderful shape until this past week when Pip decided to do some interior decorating.  She felt that it needed some lovely blue scribbles on the trim.

    plan house

    When I discovered Pip’s decorations, I felt disappointed, which is odd because it’s not my dollhouse.  Why should I feel attached to it?  Buddha says that all suffering stems from attachment.  Was that why I was upset?  Hard to say.  I am happy to report that I had the presence of mind to calmly ask Pip why she scribbled on the house.

    “I decorated the house Mama, isn’t it pretty?” Pip explained.  My daughter and I were looking at the same little dollhouse, but where she saw creativity, I saw destruction.

    “Pip, you made some lovely scribbles, but we only draw and colour on paper.”  As I said the words I realized that I was a hypocrite.  A mere twenty-four hours earlier, Pip had been allowed to draw all over the living-room windows.  That’s right.  She received  some ‘window-writers’ at a birthday party and had a glorious time creating window-art.

    window writers

    window artwindow pip

    When Big Daddy-O saw the windows he said, “Whoa.  How many kids are allowed to do that?”

    You can understand why I quickly revised my ‘scribbling rule’ for Pip.  “Please do not draw on your toys, Pip.”

    “But they’re my toys, Mama.”

    Good point.  “Well, this doll-house was given to you and your sister to share and Fig may not want the house to be decorated.”

    “Okay, Mama.”

    My explanation would suffice for now, but I was going to have to put some thought into this.  Wasn’t there a successful artist whose parents allowed him to draw on his bedroom walls?  Are we stifling children’s creativity by creating too many rules around art?  I’m not talking about letting kids paint and draw all over the walls of a home, but if a child has been given something, shouldn’t  they be permitted to ‘decorate’ it?  If a bedroom is intended to be ‘their space’ shouldn’t they be allowed to decorate it according to their taste?

    Pip ran off to play while I fretted about the potential permanence of the blue scribbles.

    “Why don’t you try that special sponge?” my husband suggested as he wandered in to survey the damage.  I’d forgotten about my, ‘Mr.Clean,’ sponge that was supposed to lift crayon off of any surface effortlessly.  This wasn’t crayon, this was ink, but I gave it a try.  At this point I can put my friend Heather, who sold us the beautiful doll-house, out of her misery and announce that the scribbles washed-off beautifully.

    As I was scrubbing, Pip ran into the room, put her hand on my shoulder and asked, “How’s the cleaning going, Mama?”

    Oh my.

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