AD and I are both creative types, so it is not so surprising that Sean is creatively bent as well. AD is creative in a money-making, problem-solving, making-the-world-more-functional kind of way. Whereas I don’t know how to do any of that; I just seem to need to swim upstream.
Having been upstream a time or two, I know that insisting upon doing everything your own creative way can make life harder than it has to be. And I don’t want that for Sean. I want him to understand that sometimes, in certain matters, it’s better to just go along — even if you do know of a prettier way to do things.
Recently, I wrote about how I tried to teach Sean how to make tally marks and how I was met with some resistance. The resistance wasn’t willful disobedience; it was just that he knew deep down in his heart that his way was better.
The next day, we had another tally mark homework assignment, and again, he wanted to make tally marks in his own way, in groups of six.
And once again I tried to explain to him that where we are located in the time and space continuum it is universally accepted that tally marks are made in groups of five; four vertical lines with one diagonal line cutting cross the group of four.
On another planet, I told him, it could work differently, but here on Earth, someone, somewhere, long, long ago, maybe even God, decided that this is how tally marks should be made. Enough people agreed and thus it became a convention, meaning that’s just how we do it.
I could tell from his glazed over expression that my dissertation on tally mark norms and conventions had fatigued his spirit. And that as a creative person he did not much esteem norms and conventions.
He twisted his mouth and looked up to the left, as though he was giving the matter thoughtful consideration. He tapped his pencil on the counter. Then he shook his head. I had failed to persuade him. No, he said, he was going to go with groups of six. He said that six was a nicer number than five.
I told him that would be fine, but that IT WAS WRONG! And then I pulled all my hair out in one clump.
No not really.
I smiled and gave no indication I cared one whit. I just told him that he probably wouldn’t find that many people who would be willing to change over to his system.
“That’s okay,” he said, “I like it better this way.”
Whatever dude. Jump in and swim upstream.
Sometimes in life, you need to be creative and other times you just need to follow the rules. And the wisdom is in knowing the difference.
How to teach that? I have no idea. Maybe he’ll figure it out on his journey upstream.