Thursday, January 5, 2012
My youngest daughter (let's call her Youngest) is at that stage where she constantly questions "what's that?" and "why?" ad infinitum. Even after you have answered well beyond the point of ridiculousness, she continues to repeat "why?" with what appears to be genuine concern, or to point at the next item (or the same one) repeating "what's that?" with real curiosity in her eyes. It means that reading a book can become an almost existential experience as my mind tries to keep finding original answers to offer to replace the exasperated "Because I said so--now zip it!" that lies on the tip of my tongue. Storytime goes something like this:
"Mommy, what's that?" Points to item on page.
"That's a doll."
"What's that?" Points to another item on page.
"That's a bear."
"...a clock....a mouse....a tree....clouds."
This continues until all the obvious nouns are covered.
Then we venture into:
"What's that?" Point.
"That's um...a word....a, uh, a page.....sentences...a period....font...typesetting...."
"Tiesting? What's that?" Point.
"Fluffy...friends....a drawing....Bobby....a creation from the head of this author...."
Until eventually the answers start to become:
"...some pinkish thing that's a stereotype of what girls really want."
"...useless tokens from parents trying to buy their children's love."
"....an artist's rendition of fear."
"...an endless loop of futility."
and then I finally turn the page and we start all over again.
"What's that?" Point.
"That's the sound of me banging my head against a wall."
My Oldest daughter (oh, let's call her Oldest) gets as peeved as I do at the constant interruptions to the intended story line. Sometimes she will "read" to her sister, which means that she recites back books that she has memorized from repetition. She has remarkable recall, but it can be challenged by the constant grilling from Youngest. Usually when Oldest gets asked "What's that?" by Youngest, she'll answer, accurately. But when Oldest doesn't know or can't remember, she doesn't let that stop her. Youngest points to a picture of a hippopotamus, questions, "What's that?" and Oldest pauses just briefly before confidently asserting, "That's a plompf." Youngest points to a picture in a Christmas book, asks "What's that?" and Oldest answers, "That's a shlabn." Eventually, the question always turns into "Why?" and Oldest will continue on with impeccable logic, "Because it hasnfert." Youngest always has one more "Why" up her sleeve, and finally Oldest will say loudly, "I already answered why.......
Three Times!!!..... now turn the page!"
No idea where she picked that up.
But really, what beautiful creativity is generated by this annoying little creature I call Youngest. She forces me to think outside the box, as they say. Repeatedly, exaggeratedly asking those two questions "Why" and "What's that?" (Alternatively, "What is this?" or, "What does this want to be?") about whatever you are working on is exactly the way to get to the root of your creativity. It forces you beyond the obvious into things that may not be true, that may not seem to relate, that are ludicrous, that don't exist. It may force you to just make it up, with all the conviction that my Oldest shows with her descriptive nonsense words. No better way to be creative. Apply it to a big question on your life. Keep asking yourself why. Let the answers be honest and unrelated and silly and deep as they want to be.
And then feel free to turn the page.
*Come Gather & Giggle this Sunday January 29, 2012, from 2-5pm at Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce, 27 Chestnut Street, Suite 1B, 1st Floor, Ridgewood, NJ 07450. We'll make Valentine's Day cards (cuz it's almost time!). We'd *love* to see you, so make a reservation. $10 at the door.
*Wishing Well Weekend Workshop! March 2-4, 2012
We women are always in transition! We move, get married, divorced, raise children, switch jobs. Transitions of any kind -- even good ones -- can leave us feeling lost, alone, and unsure about what to do next. We're here to help.
Our fun, creative exercises will help you reveal *your own* answers and insights. Beginners to professionals welcome: no crafting experience necessary! Space is limited; register (here) early!
***Special offer for the first 4 paid registrants: a free 5 x7 print of your choice from the Ruby Shea Etsy shop.
***See "What's New" page for information about a scholarship.