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Today is the Pine Wood derby for about sixty scouts in my neighborhood. I am making sugar cookies to serve at the concession stand along with fresh popped popcorn and nachos. My desire was for cookies that looked like a car—not a heart, pumpkin, or candy cane. I have those cookie cutters, but no cars. And no time to order one (it’s not your standard stock item in the stores around my town.) Then I looked carefully at a sitting bear that I have never used. I used some pliers and a sketch from my DH and reshaped this unappreciated wanna-be Pooh into a car. The goal had been a race car, perhaps a sports car. I got a sedan. Still it was recognizable.

We’ve heard that “necessity is the mother of invention.” I think desire and an open mind give us innovation. In a world reeling from the after effects of materialism, it is good to be innovative, to look at what we have and decide how we can best improve or recycle them into what we need or want. Left over fabric from years ago became pillow covers for my couch to give it a lighter, more spring-like update. I added paisley stitching and voila! An old business poster was cut in half and painted over for signs for Pack Night.
Nurturing innovation in your children equips them with a useful life skill.

When I was young, my siblings and I played with our Granddad’s treasure of Legos kept organized in a fishing tackle box. There were no diagrams or instructions. We built from imagination. Like many, in the summer we lived outside, playing without any toys or props. Just our bodies and minds. Perhaps a ball (two for steal the flag. We found the best division line was the hose stretched across the lawn.)

Vai Sikehema recently wrote about the benefits of children playing unregulated, unsupervised ball games. He also includes some other life skill benefits: “Frankly, I think one reason some young adults struggle in relationships stems from the missed opportunities for conflict resolution that comes from non-sanctioned, un-officiated games that we used to play as children. A generation or two ago, kids with normal IQs solved, on their own, the problem of having less than nine players to play baseball. . . . If left to themselves, kids will improvise, become resourceful and learn the art of compromise and fair play if they referee their own games. Those qualities prepare them for adulthood.”

The more an adult regulates or supervises a child’s play, the less original and playful it is. My dad taught us to play ‘Run Sheep Run,’ and played it once or twice with us. Then we adjusted it to fit our variables of numbers, size of yard, and enjoyment. Regulation leads to cookie cutters where everyone makes hearts or candy canes. The government is the perfect example of how over-regulating minds slows down progress. Check out this story that ran on Yahoo: about a private “Company planning biggest rocket since man on moon.” Not only is this rocket HUGE and super cool looking, but they built it at a fraction of the cost AND it opperates at a fraction of the cost.

Innovation led Tesla to give us a fast, sexy electric car when every one else were making tin bubbles. Recently, government regulation had Rolls Royce worried. A Rolls is not purchased for economy. Their customers do not worry about gas prices. But the company recognized the direction government regulations were going. So they rolled out an electric Phantom this year to astounded, and impressed, consumers. Far ahead of mandates, they stepped up their innovative solutions and said, “Hey, we can do that! And do it before they tell us we have to.”

They did have the advantage that with a Rolls, the expense of massive battery power was easily assimilated. The results? Wired Magazine reported, “The list of superlatives you can apply to this car is as long as its wheelbase. The first electric Rolls-Royce is big. It is smooth. It is mind-bogglingly luxurious. And the torque just keeps coming. It has the largest battery ever installed in a passenger car, a 71-kilowatt-hour monster that would power your iPhone until Armageddon.” You can bet Jay Leno is drooling.

So take the diagrams away from your children’s Lego’s box. Turn off the T.V. and video games and encourage them to go outside to play “ball.” Maybe someday they’ll come up with a better way to bring their children to see grandma and you can make them cookies that look like what ever you want.