Google+ Authentic Parenting: Art Or Mayhem?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Art Or Mayhem?

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Carnival of Gentle Discipline!

This post was selected as one of the Crème de la Crème of gentle discipline blogging! Click on the image to view more Crème de la Crème posts!

Image: Oana Hogrefe Photography
I am currently working on a little knitting project: a protective case for my dear friend Mackie, the laptop, without which none of these articles would be written and which has followed me to numerous destinations. Given the traveling we do, the case we bought when we first got this laptop was getting dirty, but also worn out, and one of the zippers is half torn out.
While I was happily knitting away, my daughter embarked on a little project of her own. She took the three big balls of yarn and started to spin them around her slide.

I did tell her not to do so, because the thread would get all tangled. But then I reconsidered and came to the following conclusion:

  • the three balls of yarn are less expensive than therapy and knitting is highly therapeutic
  • after months of clinginess (not to interpret in a negative way, she was right to cling to the only constant in her life with all of the changes and stresses we went through), I could use a little time for myself while my daughter spent some time on her own too
  • running around with the balls of yarn are also a form of creative expression
  • she was having a great time
  • so was I
  • cleaning up the yarn wouldn't take much more time then say, cleaning up her art supplies after an afternoon of painting and coloring and cutting
So I stopped whining and let her at it and happily knitted away. In the end, we both stopped our activity and I looked at her slide. I wish I could have taken a pic, but by the time I thought of it, I was already halfway through untangling the threads. 
This was what went through my mind: if done by an adult with a name in the art world and placed in a museum of modern art, people would come and look at it in awe... How often do we crush their creative expressions, just because we consider their impulses strange, or we think of the mess it might cause or the inconvenience. Why on earth would a couple of balls of tangled wool stress me out?

This was yet another lesson for me to reconsider my controlling impulses. To always question my interference... 
And yet I know that many many people would think I am crazy for 'allowing' her to do this.



  1. Such a fantastic post. A great reminder that messy play is okay.

  2. Totally with you on this. When the little guy does things like this, I usually (try my best to) bite my tongue, laugh it off and say that's great fun, huh! My friends usually say they love how I take it, and how I can be so easy going, but really... if you look at it objectively, if nothing is being utterly destroyed, which is easier - a constant battle with the child, or having fun together and then cleaning up together? plus, so much to be learned too!! really great and creative, I say why not?

  3. You are definitely not crazy for "allowing" this type of messy, creative play. I think it's wonderful that you realized this even after you first told her not to do it. Being able to change your mind even after first saying "no" goes a long way towards gentle discipline and building a positive relationship. Thanks for sharing!


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