The urge to destroy is also a creative urge. -Mikhail Bakunin
I must have been about 4-years-old. I was in my jammies, ready for bed. As I headed to the toilet, I impulsively picked up a red crayon and proceeded to draw a long, dark red line on the hallway wall between my room and the bathroom. I did the same thing on the way back. It was entirely out of character for me. My mother was so surprised that she didn't even reprimand me. I have few concrete memories from those early years, but that is one of them.
I don't plan my television watching, but when I hunt for programming, Mythbusters trumps everything else, even if it's a repeat. I like that it's a science program from which I always learn something. I covet their workshop far more than any mansion. I enjoy being able to correct people in social circumstances when they trot out an urban legend that the team has dispelled. And, yes, it satisfies my curiosity about such things as what would happen to a compact car if it should come between two speeding semi-trucks when they have a head-on collision.
One of the things that first attracted me to the young upstart late night comedian David Letterman was his regular feature, "Dropping Stuff Off A Five Story Building," wherein he would, well, drop stuff off a 5 story building. So influential was this recurring "skit," that I've turned it into an annual Pre-K science experiment that I call "Break or Bounce?" in honor of the more mundane classic preschool predicting experiment, "Sink or Float?" I gather together a random assortment of items like a frying pan, a glass jar, a watermelon (or pumpkin if it's around Halloween), a piece of chalk, a can of beans, a candle, a super ball, a 5 lb. sack of flour, and whatever other items come to hand, then one by one carry them to the top a ladder, call for the predictions, "Break or bounce?" then let gravity do its thing. Just like the Mythbusters, just like the Letterman audience, we spontaneously laugh and cheer with each impact, whatever the result.
When international television superstar Jenny posted about her kids' giant tile mosaic, it reminded me that I had a couple boxes of dirty, white bathroom tile tucked away in the storage room. Ours was a four step art project combining the urge to destroy with the urge to create, with lots of useful fine and large motor skill practice thrown in for good measure.
Step one: we used squirt bottles of soapy water and rags to wash the tiles.
Step two: We carefully wrapped our tile in a rag.
Step three: We placed our bundle on the floor and whacked it several times with a rubber mallet.
Step four: we glued our broken pieces to the community collage.
Not every child went through every step, but that's the beauty of this project for a 2-6 year-old class. There was a place for everyone, with whatever interest or skill, to step in creatively. And yes, there did tend to be a division of labor based on gender, with the girls more interested in the tile cleaning and gluing, while the boys tended to go for the wrapping and smashing, although this was by no means a hard and fast rule. (I'm tempted here to go into a discussion about how males in Western society have historically derived their power from the ability to take life, while females derive their power from creating it, but in a modern world in which the day-to-day need for life-taking things like hunting and making war have outlived their usefulness, I'm lead inevitably to the organizing question of every society to ever exist: "What do we do with the men?" which is a subject far too broad to fit within the borders of a little preschool blog post.)
The final piece is very heavy and very beautiful. I hope the white glue holds it together.