Nurturing A 'Creative' Child

Whether you're three years old or 30, people find it easier to give you a label and put you in an easily identifiable box (I think). Mine is usually 'highly-strung' (often a euphemism meaning 'lunatic', I've found).

Recently, from relative strangers and those close to home, D has got one of her own: 'creative'.

And when D woke up at 6am over the Easter break to modify her Granny's jade necklace (she added pearl charms and safety pins; I was over the moon about her punk styling), I started thinking that it's true: most of D's interests are all in the artsy/imaginative sphere. What's more, she likes to customise things to her own specifications and wants to be painting/drawing/collaging/sticking at all times.

So I'll take creative.

D loves art, from looking at paintings to attempting her own masterpieces. She likes styling (of the clothing, hair and make-up variety). And, like lots of other little girls, she loves to escape into imaginary worlds with mermaids, sorcerers, witches and princesses.

It's lucky that I'm into this, because being creative all the time can be exhausting. The grey pavement is a bit boring for D, so she likes to jump from square to square reinventing the street in all the colours of the rainbow (it only takes 20 minutes to walk from one end of the block to the other this way. It is a lot more exciting, however).

Meanwhile, getting dressed at home has reached pre-Oscars-night-for-a-female-nominee levels of planning and preparation (No joke. A recent birthday party ensemble choice of hers seemed to be a more agonising decision than I went through when choosing a wedding dress).

I think I'm more likely to indulge the insanity since suddenly everything - from D's choice of hairdo to the particular arrangement of her princess collection in bed - might be a part of D's burgeoning creative side. And I don't want to be responsible for stifling the future Vivienne Westwood-meets-Jackson-Pollock (of all of the artists, I think he's easiest for a splatter-happy three-year-old to aim for).

Part of my intensive encouragement of all of this (I found myself excitedly trying to recreate a Matisse collage I'd seen in a book with D last week) is because it coincides with what I like doing as a parent: looking at books, looking at art, cutting pictures and bits of paper and haphazardly gluing them on top of each other. If she wanted to throw a ball around all day, I'd be screwed.

Which is fine, I think, although I feel like that puts quite a lot of pressure on school to teach her basically everything else that I'm not into (although her father's got politics, cricket and everything maths-y covered. I hope).

Is she really into all of this stuff or have I just projected my interests onto her because it's quite lovely to have similar hobbies as your kids (who I also happen to spend most of my time with?). I need to start going to the Science Museum more...

Also, it's great to have someone who thinks outside the box. But am I supposed to be teaching her how to think in it, too? I just want to be encouraging and I want her to be the happiest kid (and then the most well-adjusted, fulfilled adult, of course) ever. But is encouraging one side of her development compromising the rest?

Of course, D's little sister Liv, at 15-months-old, has been declared totally different personality-wise (by the world). As far as I can tell, she loves eating, pooing and mimicking her sister, so it's not that obvious. And of course, whatever she's into is fine with me (I just hope I don't have to read lots of textbooks to understand it).

For the time being, however, I'm doing things the only way I know how: I'm starting her in an art class soon. Hopefully she'll be into splattering paint around, too - there's nothing like having two tortured artistic geniuses under one roof.

Who knows? Maybe I'll discover my own hidden Picasso along the way. Isn't having kids all about fulfilling all of your own failed fantasies? Kidding, of course...

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