It all started with a trip to the theatre. My kids sat glued to their seats, mesmerised by the music, colour and choreography of Aladdin. They wiggled gleefully when Aladdin raced through the streets of Agrabah, they howled with laughter at Genie’s jokes, and their mouths dropped in amazement when Aladdin and Jasmine soared high above our heads on their magic carpet.
After seeing how enchanted they were by the production, I set the children a challenge to create their own theatre experience. They were excited by the prospect and worked on their show for two solid days. There was a healthy dose of dancing and fight scenes, as well an inexplicable comedy routine at intermission. They even created programs and souvenir fridge magnets for purchase, one of which is still proudly stuck to our fridge door. The entire contents of their wardrobes ended up on the floor, and some of our kitchen utensils have never been seen again. I would struggle now to tell you what the show was about (and to be honest, the plot was pretty flaky) but I do remember laughing so hard my cheeks hurt.
These creative challenges have since become a bit of a family tradition. After an inspiring visit to the Cork & Chroma art exhibition, we decided to hold our own family exhibition where we each created art related to the theme ‘fun’. Master 12 made a superhero costume out of cardboard, masking tape and paint. Master 8 created a colourful book filled with thought-provoking questions, like “Would you rather eat cheesy pasta or pizza for the rest of your life?”, and Miss 7 made an extravagant three-tier paper cake complete with glittery drip wax candles. Even their dad and I couldn’t resist joining in on the fun (I saw him chuckling to himself one night while he filmed his clay sculptures and turned them into a hilarious animation). At the end of every challenge, we pay the children pocket money to show them the value of being creative. We let them know that they can be rewarded financially as well as emotionally for their enthusiasm, motivation and positive attitude.
What I have learnt from these family challenges is that shared experiences bring people together. It’s not about the finished product (our art exhibition items will soon be recycled and forgotten) but the fun we had creating things together. I loved seeing the joy on Master 12’s face when he found a cardboard box he could use to make a helmet. Likewise, Miss 7’s face lit up when inspiration struck her to use glitter glue as the drippy wax on her birthday candles. I even liked seeing Master 8 pick himself up after his original origami idea didn’t go according to plan. Not a single one of our family challenges has been performed without a few tears or tantrums, but that’s what makes their little victories so sweet.
Most of all, it’s nice not to just be an observer in this aspect of their lives. Instead of watching them from afar at gymnastics or soccer training, I get to cut and glue and paint right alongside them! I get to help them figure out how to stabilise the top tier of a paper cake and how to best fasten a cardboard chest plate. And I know that these creative problem-solving skills will give them confidence to navigate the challenges they will face as adults.
Ann Gibb (pictured right) is Head of Operations for Cork & Chroma and works her magic across all studios, Australia-wide.