Creative habits – from art to lunchboxes

My 7-year-old daughter Clara has never been in an Arts Corps class, but she’s been impacted by Arts Corps in more ways that she knows. Last year out of the blue, while I was at Festa – our biggest fundraiser of the year – she declared that she “prays to Arts Corps and Buddha.” There are many unexpected aspects of that statement but it always makes me smile.

The public school we chose for her – our decision and criteria totally influenced by Arts Corps – is an alternative one with full time visual arts and music teachers, dance residencies, yoga and more. At the tour, the principle wove poetry into his talk about the school. Test scores were never mentioned. Individualized learning and art and organic gardens and community were. I wanted to go back to kindergarten.

Last year in first grade, Clara became friends with a tiny little spitfire of a girl named Kate. Kate is delightfully spirited (at least to me; I’m not her mother), creative and full of life. On the drive home from school, I would sometimes be lucky enough to catch tiny glimpses into Clara’s day. Special guest from the Seattle Public Library. Caterpillar at show and tell. What Kate packed in her own lunch. That’s right – 6-year-old Kate apparently packed her own lunch.

Sometimes it was cereal. Sometimes it was an English muffin and 6 snack boxes of raisins. Without hesitation, she’d solicit better looking food from her friends. I always questioned to myself how much of this was true. The one time I questioned it out loud, the response was an exasperated eye roll and sigh from my 1st grade tween: “It’s true mom. She told me so.” Adults are so dumb.

Until one day when Clara said all Kate had was leftover spaghetti in her lunchbox. And Kate doesn’t even like spaghetti. Clara was silent for a while and I could see in the rear view mirror that her eyes were focused and partially closed – her “thinking” look.

Very thoughtfully she said, “I don’t think Kate packs her own lunch.” I daringly ask “why” hoping not to awaken the inner tween and shut her down. “Because if she DID pack her own lunch, she wouldn’t pack something she didn’t like.”

I had to pull over because I was whooping so vigorously. “Do you know what you just did? That was CRITICAL THINKING!! YEAH!” An excited explanation about critical thinking ensued, along with me spilling over with pride and probably tearing up a little. Clara looked pleased with herself. I said a silent prayer myself to art making and the wonderful things it brings out in us all.

Next up – getting my awesomely adventurous 4-year-old son Michael to grasp on to the creative habit “persistence and discipline.” Here’s hoping.

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