Raising HPSTRS (because they’re too cool for vowels)

List your accomplishments: No.

I look good on paper, to the world I am a definition of success. People like to hear about a smart, strong, successful woman. To the world I am the product of successful public school systems, a state university, and a private seminary. I am a young, up-and-coming doctoral student, pastor, president of a non-profit, and valued member of society. When in reality, the “product” that I am, has to do with a handful of teachers that knew how to teach a creative brain. They were my lifeline.

The summer after I graduated college I was at lunch with my mother and my sister. My sister was a band director teaching in a Middle School. I was heading to seminary.

My mother was proud of us both, but wondered, “Why is it the one that hated school (read: sucked at it) is going back and the one that loved (read: straight A student) school is out of it?” My answer was simple, “Because it’s only now starting to get interesting.”

People are always shocked when they learn that I actually didn’t learn to read until I was in the 4th grade. Or at least that’s when the teacher noticed. I got a tutor, I learned eventually. I’m still a slow reader. My freshman year of high school was the first time I read a book, like a real book, it was Shane, then I read the Count of Monte Cristo, and I fell in love.

This astonishes people “HOW?!?” they ask. I just paid a lot of attention. We had reading groups I would listen to them read like they were stories. In comprehensive questions I would find similar words from story to question. I could remember almost verbatim what the teachers said when they taught. My sister would read things for me. I am a visual and audible learner. It was easy, but concentration was hard. I was bored out of my mind.

Yesterday I had a parent/teacher conference at my son’s preschool. They want him accessed for fine motor skills and speech, but there was more to the conversation. At 4 years old, he is a creative brain. My son, lives in his own world, because the world in his imagination, is SO much more interesting than the world he lives in. I like that about him.

I can imagine this is frustrating as a teacher, and I understand that you cannot change a whole classroom for my child, and that there’s no way to assess him when he doesn’t articulate the answer to the question you just asked him, but ask him to tell you about his day? Ask him to tell you what he’s thinking about? And O the places he goes!

We value creativity, not creatives.

After the meeting I went home and looked up books on parenting creative minds. I came up short. There were hundreds on books on Amazon explaining how to raise your child to BE creative. There are also many books on raising autistic or ADHD children. But what about us caught in the middle?

“If the parent find wonder in everyday as will the children, if the parents are creative the kids will mimic.”

There was no way my children were not going to be creative in some way. Just as if either of them had straight hair I would have returned them to the hospital because it could not be my child, they were destined to be creative. I am a creative brain. There is absolutely no question, my stream of consciousness is unreal. It amazes me, and I really have no idea what’s going on up there.

The first time I ever concentrated on anything was music related, it connected me to something larger than myself, something I now see and understand to be God. I’m a photographer, a very amateur one, but one nonetheless. It’s my media, how I express myself, I am also an orator. Poetry, sermons, blogs- writing is fine- but speech and presentation… storytelling is my gift.

My ex-husband’s creative drug of choice is the pencil or stylus. He is a cartoonist, a sketcher, animator, and writer. Graphics of all kinds.  He lives in his brain, and not just in the “I’m an introvert” kind of way (although yes, HUGE introvert), but he could draw you a picture before he would tell you his thoughts.

I do not see any of this as bad. This is who we are. My 7 year old daughter is an introvert, she is also a writer and painter. Last year she had her art chosen for 2 different showcases. She would rather write me a note and draw me a picture than talk to me. I respect that. She is in bed by 9pm and up by 7am, clockwork. Also, the outfits! Whew, that girl and her color pallet!

My son, who is 4, is a flaming extrovert. He lives in the world he created in his mind. He does not like to draw or write, he does love to dance, sing, and play in the sand, he likes to build things out of nothingness. The more activity around him, the more stimulated he gets, he is awake most nights in his room until 11-12pm. On Saturday’s when I don’t force him out of bed, I gently wake him after 11am. He was born a hipster. He matches pitch perfectly, he has natural rhythm, even when banging on the drums or piano.

I will spend the rest of my life fighting for his rights in school. I will be an attentive parent, I will do what needs to be done, but I pray that this society that claims to value creatives will not beat it out of them. She will survive, as she has the ability to sit and concentrate, articulate her thoughts, people-please. He, on the other hand, he might have already flunked out before he began.


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