Haim Atgar: Am I hurting my daughters’ creativity?

What makes your child traumatized? I think my generation is so confused by reading tons of parenting manuals, watching movies, and the various and varied approaches that are supposed to help when it comes to raising our children, that we have almost completely lost direction.

We have no idea what to forbid and what to allow our children to do and how to behave with them so that the next generation will develop normally. For example: a few months ago my older daughter was caught red-handed scratching the wall. You all know this event: Zatot grabs a marker and decides to renovate the house and in an instant your habitat turns into a Jackson Pollock creation. But it was not enough that Michaela gave free rein to her neo-impressionist desires, shortly after the painting and the attack on her behalf, the little one was also dragged into the destructive cauldron. With clumsy and rhythmic movements, my mother covered the area that the premiere missed, until there was no trace of what used to be a standard living room wall in Israel and became an experimental museum in North Berlin.

Some will say that this activity contributes to their creativity and the development of creativity, but at the same time we must not forget that this is practically the destruction of a beloved home. Despite our appreciation for art of any kind, our decision on the matter is unequivocal: markers on the whitewash is not a good thing, therefore the vandalism must be stopped immediately and the words: “Girls, you freaked out”, must be added, and my wife and I must be vigorously scrubbed, designed to erase the product the unruly

Not long ago I met a couple of parents who told me the exact opposite. In their place, they said with a knowledgeable condescension accompanied by the quiet talk of yoga instructors, they let the children do everything – complete portraits on the walls of the apartment, sculpt in mud in the heart of the living room and uproot protrusions for the purposes of creative hour. The sequence of permits was said without blinking or doubting, as if it was the Torah itself that was given on Mount Sinai from the hands of the Holy One, blessed be He.

After hearing their parental analysis and even though my self-confidence is shaky regarding what is allowed and what is not allowed to the point of breaking down, I realized how much the ideas in question go beyond the realm of reason and may even be a little crazy.

With these arguments floating in the back of my mind, I caught the girls again, unfortunately, in underground activity. This time it was game stamps that tore up the fabric of the home and desecrated the space.

It started with a burst of genius from our mother and father, to buy them stamps with some kind of ink attached to them. Each of these stamps has a different pattern, sweeter than the previous one, a smiling butterfly, his teddy bear, a rainbow, etc. Schmaltz who frames the world with optimism. About such a purchase you can say “the end of the act is the first thought”. Unfortunately we did not include these insights and consequences when visiting the stock store and therefore we ended up in the shameful situation.

The mischievous duo, who for the time being were nicknamed: “Hit and Hit Bad”, had an urgent need to try the mechanism in his room. We looked away from them for a moment in favor of another urgent matter at home and at record speed we witnessed how a wall turns into a static video from the world “Teddy cares for me”. We were amazed. We woke up with restrained moderation, even though inside we were seething and went to work on the repair. Every moment I erased another stamp I remembered the knowledgeable father and mother who nodded in succession as they described to me how they encourage the creative world of their children by erasing all boundaries from the little ones. Even though deep in my heart I thought it was bullshit in the juice, I felt bad about myself. Maybe now, in the life of this action I created the next Picasso? Who knows if I didn’t inflict the deepest trauma in these very moments that my jewel will receive in its entire life?

Since then, thank God, their interest in creatively treating the walls of the house has stopped. But never resilience. Not long ago a new arena developed. Every day they come back from kindergarten with what is called a “new creation”: sketches, doodles and more. “Dad, it’s a butterfly,” Michaela tells me. But when I look, my eyes only process a collision of 20 colors into one black hole. “A very beautiful butterfly,” I reply with trepidation, so as not to hurt the bird.

And now, what the hell do we do with the thousands of papers that have accumulated? In my dream I meet the two peaceful parents and drown them in dozens of such paintings. In reality, for fear of causing grief to the little ones, everything is kept with us. Now we have dirty half walls in the house and half walls with obscure works hanging on them – the main thing is that they should be creative and happy. 

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