I think with the grown-ups what I’m trying to do is encourage a full shame-ectomy. Embarrassment is a learned disease that begins to manifest itself in early adolescence. By adulthood, it can have ossified your entire spirit. A saving grace of having kids is that for the first time—in maybe a very long time—there’s permission to be silly. I encourage that.

If you claim that being creative—by writing, drawing, or singing songs—is important, then you have to do those things. Otherwise, you’re lying and kids smell a lie. A lot of my work over the last couple years has been trying to create situations that allow the grown-ups in kids’ lives to be sillier by doodling, drawing, and demonstrating the joy in the creative process. If I’m doing a drawing demonstration, it’s for everyone, because drawing is a physicalized form of empathy—and who can’t use a bit more of that?

-Mo Willems