Releasing Control: Let Their Imagination Run Wild

Peanut had a Valentine’s Day shoe box assignment from school and she wanted to build a card munching robot. This was an incredible experience and a fun exercise in releasing control. Watching her creative juices at work, hearing her ideas and the reasons behind them, and seeing her excitement anytime she talked about working on her robot was unforgettable. She came up with a design, drew it, and came up with a list of things we’d need to build it. We ran all over town finding the right decorations and she picked them all out.

Early on in the process I found myself wanting to create a Valentine’s robot that would be the envy of all the kids in her class. To build one with lights and sounds and to create a Valentine’s box like her class had never seen before. I wanted her to be proud of her robot and what she made, but mostly I wanted her to think she has the coolest dad around.

As we started, I began to give input on how she could decorate it. Some of the things she wanted didn’t make sense in my mind. Things weren’t symmetrical, object placement was not at all what I’d choose and it certainly wasn’t shaping into the vision I had in my mind… what an idiot I can be!!!

I quickly realized whatever it ended up looking like would be perfect, because it was her vision, pulled from her untamed four year old imagination. So instead, I sat back, releasing control in my input, and facilitated helping her achieve all her imagination could come up with. She used tools she’s never handled before, paints, stickers, artificial flowers; everything on it was handmade with her loving little hands. She adored her project so much she gave it a name, “Girly”. She would often make me talk as if I were Girly the robot. We would have conversations, and using my best robot voice, we talked about all the treats that would be crammed her robot mouth. It was so fun listening to the reasons behind her decisions. For example, she placed a large flower on the ice cream cone Girly had in her hand. Why you ask? Well, so Girly can smell the flower while she’s eating her ice cream… DUH DAD!

This was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to do more with her. It can be easy to lose sight of the goal sometimes. In this case, the goal was never a tricked out robot build by dad, the goal was quality time spent with my perfect little human. And what do you know, she made all the decisions and “Girly” turned out better than my imagination could have dreamed. She even told me I was the best dad around. Next time you have a project with your kiddo, try releasing control of your own input to allow their imagination to run wild.

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