Dismantling Forts

Lola Dutch, in some ways, was made to give encouragement and give a pat on the back to the kids that are still enthusiastic and still on fire, and still curious about the world, and just say, ‘Look, here’s somebody just like you, and we love it, and we need more people like you.’
[Kenneth Wright]


Photo by Inês Pimentel on Unsplash

This week’s epiphany: “I think I’m spending too much time dismantling forts.”

This is what I do. I dismantle forts.

I say, “This is not THE TIME for fort building”.

See also: This is not the time for dressing up, This is not the time for making things, This is not the time for reading, This is not the time for hiding from a hurricane or putting out fires. (I wanted imaginative children, the joke’s on me).

I spend the evening returning tiny lego pieces to the lego box, furniture into the playmobile house, separating dentist and school sets into their cases and binning googly eyes.  There are always so many googly eyes.

Imogen wakes early and plays quietly and purposefully.  Everything is opened and mixed in 2 seconds flat.

That’s not really true.  Everything is not mixed in 2 seconds flat. What is true is that Imogen plays quietly and purposefully.  Resulting in a purposeful mess.

(“A creative bombsite”: a phrase I sometimes use to warn my husband about the living room.)

What I really wanted, it seems, is children who would keep their imaginations segregated by brand and theme.

I want creativity to be one of the values in our home and the frustrating, and slightly embarrassing, truth is that I find this hard.  Tiring.  It does not come as naturally to me as I would like.  I would like everything tidy and quiet so I can have some Sharon-time later.

I listen to an interview with Kenneth and Sarah Jane Wright, the creators of Lola Dutch Is A Little Bit Much, on Readaloud Revival.  They are talking about giving kids creative courage – “if the parents just get out of the way.”

If the parents just get out of the way.

(Stop dismantling forts).

I hover and intervene when I should be giving them space.  I dismantle when I should be encouraging the build.

Making space matters, Erin Loechner says, in whatever way we can.  ‘Trading theories for wonder, criticism for curiosity. Kissing the precious plants and spotless sofa goodbye; heralding in an unpredictable mess. Swapping out a limited view of self care and allowing ourselves the surprise of something else. Giving up our cozy couch; receiving front row seats to a far greater show.’

I want to make space for creative courage, for forts and Princess Dogs and integrated play pieces.  An unpredictable mess.  A far greater show.


6 thoughts on “Dismantling Forts

  1. Beautifully put Sharon. This very point was demonstrated to me when I had my nieces staying. They saw a pile of cardboard in the garage and proceeded to cut life size people out of it. They then upturned the house to find “clothes” for their cardboard mutants! I watched gingerly as glue, scissors , old pyjamas , scarves, bits of jewellery were strewn all over the garden and “plonked” on Rufus and Lilly. The garden is tidy now and the garage has two new residents who will forever be the memory from …”That day when they were 7 in my garden…”
    Thanks for the gentle reminder that this is indeeed
    “the greater show…”

    • I LOVE this Cherith! And your nieces are the luckiest to have an Auntie Cherry that let them create! (Laughed out loud that they’re called Rufus & Lilly- brilliant.) xx

  2. Tidying the mess is good though, its like giving them a fresh page in the sketchbook, Or swiping the etchasketch clean for new creation! #notetoself

  3. And breathe! Blessings to all with little ones in their lives to be able to breathe out and drink in the joy of the mixed up Lego and homemade perfume. I think I’ll print out this Erin Loechner quote. So good! Keep writing Sharon, it is good for many hearts and I pray yours too xx

    • Thank you! 💜 It is certainly good for mine, both the writing process and the company of those it resonates with! (And it’s the season for that homemade perfume..!) xx

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