This past week my son, who is six, taught be a very valuable lesson in thinking outside the box and breaking the mold of how we think things should be done. Zephyr is really into "inventing" things around the house. This obsession has also led to a need to "hoard" objects for his inventions, but that is for another blog post. With last weekend being an extended weekend, I thought I would take him to the hardware store and pick up some materials to build a homemade flashlight. Being a former shop teacher, I had done this project with my students numerous times and had a pretty good plan for what I thought we needed to accomplish the task.
Driving into Lincoln, Zephyr and I discussed what we would need for the flashlight and I tried to explain how electricity works, which may have been a little over the head of a kindergartener. I soon realized that my thinking was too narrow minded and possibly stifling the creative process and Zephyr's imagination.
Once we arrived at Menards, I began by going to the electrical isle. While I picked out wire, Zephyr ran off and was looking at random electrical parts. He would hold up a random object and say, "this could be the body" or "how about this for a handle?" I initially told him no because "I knew how to build a flashlight". However, after about the fifth time of me telling him this, I realized he was right, all of these random pieces could be used to build a different and maybe better flashlight.
Soon Zephyr's enthusiasm grew with me telling him what part of the flashlight we needed and him finding something that would work. From a doorbell as the on/off switch to a funnel to hold the light, his mind was racing, and my pride growing as my six year old was allowing his mind to take us both places I would have never dreamed.
Zephyr didn't know any different. He didn't analyze every detail. He just allowed his mind to think creatively and have fun! On my way home, I realized that too many times we limit what we can do by not allowing ourselves to think outside the box and try something new. It took the creative mind of a six year old to open my eyes and remind me that it isn't always about the end result but the process we take to get there.