Friday, November 20, 2009
Sometimes at playgroup, when I'm alone in my head, I watch the toddlers at play and think about my own childhood. I remember playing in the woods behind my parents' house. Shooting baskets in our front driveway. Riding my bike up and down the short hill of our cul de sac. Building forts out of sleeping bags and a threadbare La-Z-Boy recliner. Setting up domino rallies. Doing puzzles. Playing Twister, Sorry, and The Game of Life. Reading.
I don't have memories of toys.
We had toys, probably more of them than my parents appreciated stepping on barefoot when making their way through our family room, but their specific contours don't resolve when I look backward.
And I find myself wondering: How did we get to the point where we came to believe that our children need so many things?
I will not pretend that my own house does not suffer from an overabundance of electronic trinkets and colorful trifles. It does. I have not held the line against the onslaught of items. But Big Boy, like most kids I know, is more discerning than we parents. He spends plenty of time with his beloved Thomas train set, his miniature kitchen, and his Duplo blocks. But his favorite playthings also include a box with a handle (his "suitcase"), a paper towel roll (his "telescope"), and a Q-tip ("I'm cleaning for you, Mommy"). Yesterday he occupied himself for twenty minutes "mowing the lawn" with a long-handled shoe horn.
Children make the extraordinary out of the ordinary (with all due credit to Heather and her wonderful title for her even wonder-fuller blog). But it's wrong, I think, to expect them to make the extraordinary when the ordinary is preprocessed, prefabricated, and prepackaged. When the imagination is preprovided.
A reminder to myself this morning, as I look out my window and across the pond, at the first of the season's Christmas wreaths, its lights twinkling in the still dark of the dawn.
What does our tendency to overindulge our children say about us? What are we really trying to buy?
Posted by Kristen @ Motherese at 6:23 AM