I have three children. The youngest is still an infant, but the other two are old enough that their personalities have really started to blossom. In some ways they are two peas in a pod, but in others they are completely different. Judah, 6, is my right-brained, dreamy imaginer. Malachi, 3 (soon to be 4), is my left-brained, focused, logical problem solver. They both take after me, but in vastly different ways.
Creative vs. Logical
I usually claim to be a right-brained Creative, but that’s not the whole story. It’s my dominant side, but I have a good deal of that logical left side churning away at any given moment inside the noggin. The dual focus allows me to relate to my children in different ways.
When Judah describes things by air-drawing them with his finger, he speaks my language. I’m instantly in tune with his visual images. He inspires my own creativity when he shows me a story he’s written or a game he’s invented or a picture he’s drawn. I can empower his imagination with a simple phrase like, “You know, you could write a book if you wanted to….” And bam! He’s got his motivation for the day, or the week – completely intent on inventing a story about his favorite characters (which happen to be Mario and Luigi). I feel an intimate connection to him, not just because he’s my son but because we see the world in the same way.
And then there’s Chi (pronounced like the Greek letter, not the straight iron). He expects things to be black and white. He gets very frustrated when I tell him there’s no right or wrong way to place the stickers in his sticker book. Puzzles are his thing. He can entertain himself for a solid hour, completing a 60-piece puzzle, returning it to the box and getting another one (repeating the process several times). This week when he dumped out a 500-piece puzzle onto the table and began turning over pieces without flinching, I didn’t dare crush his aspirations by telling him it was too hard. Instead, I had the joy of working alongside that tenacious tike. Doing the puzzle with him reminded me how much I love solving problems and how rewarding it is turning chaos into order.
War of the Brains
Hanging out with my kids reminded me how equally important both sides of the brain are. The right side of my brain may get most of the glory, coming up with ideas for stories, but the poor slaving left brain does its own share of the work, organizing my abstract thoughts into something that actually makes sense. It’s great having both sides so active, but on the other hand, sometimes it can be a struggle.
I can’t decide if coordinating reason and creativity is more like switching gears from drive to reverse or like trying to force two kids to get along without one bullying the other into submission. Both sides are beneficial – and necessary. But how do you get them to work together and “play nice?”
No matter where you fall into the spectrum of thinking, we all have both sides of the brain. And we need both to succeed in life, despite whichever side may be dominant (even if one side has beaten the other into a pulp the consistency of canned pumpkin). The trick is recognizing when to access the logical side and when to access the creative side.
Battle for Control
Although I focus so heavily on the creative side on this blog, I have to struggle daily with reining in my logical side. It’s so strongly in my genes to think by strict rules, follow set patterns and organize until my brain goes numb that sometimes I think I stifle my own creativity. So that’s what I’m working on – giving my creative inner child the freedom to roam, but letting Logic out (on a short leash) when it’s time to make sense of it all.
What about you? Which way do you lean? What side of the brain do you have to work on – either reining in or letting out of the cage?