Raising Driftless Kids

Ainsley Anderson

Happy holidays! It seems like ages since I sat down to share my musings with you. It’s hard to believe that the school year is a quarter completed. It seemed to go so quickly! We’re gearing up for the holiday season with renewed hope of being able to safely gather with loved ones. We are joyfully anticipating Grandma’s eggnog and card games around the table with our families.

The rut and the arrival of holiday toy catalogs seem to coincide annually in our home. As a long-time lover of toys, and having carefully paired down and color-coded wish lists in my youth, I will admit I still delight in the arrival of toy catalogs. My children share my passion and interest although as of yet none of them seems to share my love of listing favorite candidates.

It’s fun to see what catches their eyes. Over the past few years Legos have frequently been top contenders. I struggle with it a little because we already have so many Legos in our house.  However, they are played with again and again; new and interesting creations are engineered before my eyes in ways that my brain never could have fathomed. They come home from school and, after taking care of whatever homework they need to do, they are frequently building and creating with Legos.  

They could be asking for expensive video game consoles and accessories, cell phones, or other major technology purchases, but my kids have little interest in that. They want to build and create. They develop stories to go along with their creations. They recreate their favorite books and movies using the minifigs and bricks. It’s fascinating to me that they are able to create such intricate set-ups.

There’s a part of my brain that somewhat screams about the bins and bins of Legos that we have. It drives me crazy that I have dedicated huge amounts of time to color-coding their Legos with them so they are easier to find, only to see everything mixed again a month later. I have stepped on so many Lego bricks that at this point my feet seem to be numb to them. However, the creativity that those little plastic blocks inspire is worth every curse-inducing step and the bins of perceived chaos.

I firmly believe that every child is gifted with creativity that is waiting to be shared in a multitude of ways. I think that giving children gifts that help them call on and develop that creativity is one of the best ways to celebrate the joy of the season. Creativity helps us grow and understand the world around us. Art supplies, building blocks, dolls, dress-up clothes and engineering sets allow children to explore their imagination. 

So, create those wish lists and flip through those catalogs. Indulge in some creativity. Build something. Create something. Shop as small and local as you can. Allow yourself and your loved ones to imagine this holiday season. I wish you wonder, peace, and creativity.

Ainsley Rowe Anderson is a mom of three whose roots run deep in the Driftless Area mineral districts of Wisconsin and Illinois. She is a teacher who enjoys sharing her thoughts on raising children in the Driftless in this space on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on education and kids.