On the morning of Indie’s second birthday, he was introduced to Monster Trucks. A ten-minute Monster Jam video on youtube that became the catalyst of a year long obsession. He had always been interested in wheels, or rather, the rotation of wheels. He’d lie on the floor and roll his Hot Wheels cars across the carpet just to watch the motion of their wheels.
Jarrod figured that since wheels were so intriguing to him, he might like the giant wheels of a monster truck. Well, he wasn’t wrong…
Months later, Indie had a decent collection of monster truck toys, and wouldn’t go anywhere without them. Without ALL of them.
Somewhere within the bowels of a misplaced backup hard drive, there is a pictorial documentary of just how much monster trucks became a focal point of his life. Photos of Indie attempting (and succeeding through dogged determination) to climb a ladder at his favourite playground – with up to eight monster trucks in his hands. Freestyle tracks carved out of Narrow Neck sand..
Eventually – sometime during the age of three-ish – the monster truck obsession wore itself out. I admit I was relieved. Maybe now he’d take up a new interest! In something that wasn’t so… one-track.
But he didn’t. Try as we might to engage him in other interests, Indie floated lost in his own little apathetic world of Complete Disinterest In Most Things. He couldn’t engage in anything. And he was unsettled because of it.
Finally, one day – and I can’t remember how but I’m guessing it had something to do with Iron Man – we engaged him once again with… Superheroes! It revitalised him. Intrigued by flying metal suits, indestructible shields, and magical hammers. (As a family of Marvel fans, this was an obsession we were all happy to jump in on. ;))
Angry Birds followed. First the app, then the little plastic figures with their catapults, which gave him hours of fun setting up intricate towers (we sacrificed our Jenga blocks for this cause) and finding the perfect place to set up his catapult and knock it all down again. There was real-life, physical play inspired by the game, too…
After that? Plants vs Zombies.
I wasn’t so rapt about what was a fairly pointless and brain-numbing computer game. But it turned out that game had its positive side effects. Inspired by the game, we planted flower gardens with Sunflowers and Snapdragons. Then once an interest in gardening began to take hold (for both of us) we moved to growing herbs and veggies. Because of that initial interest in a pointless computer game, Indie’s interest in gardening remains to this day. And, I became a gardener. Like, as a job. One I get paid for. As my regular weekly thing.
Lastly (on the subject of Plants vs Zombies that is) the game inspired Indie to draw. Intricate, amazing, packed with details… those drawings were stories in themselves.
Minecraft followed. Connecting with him on both a creative and constructive level.
Almost all of Indie’s interests have originated from a movie or computer game, but they’ve tapped into other areas of expression and interest for him. They’ve resonated with him in a way nothing else has and enriched so many other aspects of creativity.
This can be hard for others to understand. Particularly for those who hear him talk non-stop about a computer game, without understanding that this interest has inspired him to create his own engaging ideas and concepts.
Bree also has a single driving obsession which she has carried with her since she was two and a half. She lives, breathes, eats, sleeps and probably even poops… Dinosaurs.
No one ever blinks an eye at the fact that, nine times out of ten, all of her imaginary play, her drawing and her story telling revolves around dinosaurs. No one ever questions whether such a long-standing all-consuming obsession is healthy for her. And why would we question it? Dinosaurs are educational. Dinosaurs are science. Dinosaurs are history.
Some may question whether it’s healthy for most of Indie stories, drawings, and general thought processes to stem from movie and gaming related topics such as superheroes and Minecraft. These interests are unhealthy! They’re corrupting his mind! His attention span! His behavior!
On the contrary – and this is something I feel people find hard to believe or accept – these interests help him. These ‘pointless’ things have inspired in Indie an interest in science. And technology. And innovation. He dreams of a future where he can build his own flying suits. Where he can build robots that carry out certain tasks. Even where he builds his own apps or games. He doesn’t yet know the intricate details of ‘quantum physics’, but he has long dreamed of creating wormholes and portals into different dimensions.
Is that not educational? Is that not science? Is that not innovation? And is that any less valuable than Bree’s love for dinosaurs and paleontology?
One dreams of our planet’s history, while the other dreams of its future. But isn’t it just great that they dream?