The Water or the Wind: Extinguishing or Growing Ideas

Being practical and logical is important. But it is not always the answer.

While reading Brave Learner by Julie Bogart last summer, I was struck in the heart by an analogy she gave.

She was discussing how to encourage ideas, creativity, and learning in children.

She said when they come to you with an idea, it is like a burning flame.

You can either be the wind that fans that flame and helps it grow, or the bucket of water that douses and extinguishes the flame.

This idea really challenged me. I realized how many times I had been the bucket of water on my kids’ ideas.

Many times I had logical excuses for extinguishing their ideas. But this analogy made me realize I could improve.

So I resolved to be more of the wind for them.

Last month my son read a biography on Jim Henson and was enamored with the idea of puppet making.

We checked out puppet making books, gathered old clothes for fabric, and a couple weeks ago finally found time to make puppets.

It was so fun to close the loop on his idea and teach him to follow through. I also got to show him my support.

For my daughter, I got to be the wind in a different way.

I found crayon marks on our kitchen table and gently said,”Oops! You missed the paper!” I cleaned off the crayon and noticed her sad expression.

She said,”I didn’t miss, Mommy. I want to draw on the table. It is bigger than paper.”

I thought for a moment, and verified that my magic eraser sponge could remove all crayon.

“Yes, sweetie. You can draw on the table with crayons. At the end of the day I will wipe it clean so you have a fresh canvas each morning.”

She was completely shocked and thrilled. She was braced for the bucket of water and instead got the wind.

She learned I was a safe place for her ideas.

And she made the most beautiful murals on our table.

It is not always easy to be the wind. Sometimes as parents we have to be the voice of reason.

But these two experiences with my kids taught me the joys of being the wind.

I look forward to being the wind for not only my kids, but for my spouse, myself, and others.