I had another thought about the party this morning so I had to come back to add some more. The toys! I’ve never seen a house like it! Daniel has *everything*, it’s like a toy shop – two rooms with storage and hundreds of plastic things. Everything I forbid in fact, plastic and lights and buttons and batteries and noise. And about ten kids all trying to outdo each other for the parental irritation they can provoke.
One thing that was bothering me apart from my obvious annoyance with noise and lights (intolerant mummy)… The toys can only be one thing. True, children find a way around that, but why should they have to? A mobile phone with lights and ring tones and buttons with numbers is ONLY a mobile phone. A red fire truck with hose and siren and ladder is ONLY a fire truck. A perfect replica tool set with whirring electric screwdriver is ONLY a tool set.
Now think about a set of plain wooden arches. Same cost as the phone. An arch is a house, a cave, a doll cradle, a phone, a bridge for three billy goats, a rainbow for fairies to walk on, a stable, a car seat, a roof, an add-on to turn the toy car into a double decker bus… Think about a plain, large, simple toy car (I saw one this week for £6 and I’d guess the fire engine came in at three times that). It’s an ambulance, it’s a family car, it’s a fire truck (with a straw taped to the roof and a tape measure for the ladder), it’s a bus with the arch on top, it’s a second tractor to go on the farm with the red one (which is her most common choice to play “fire engine”)… Think about a set of bricks. They can be ANYTHING. Actually her most common use for the bricks is as babies for her to carry around in a huge basket! Don’t ask me, I wish I *could* see the world through her eyes.
None of that is stuff I’ve made up, it’s all play that I’ve observed, been party to, or had to step over to get to the door! This kind of play is good for her, it is growing and learning and living. How much of the single-use-toy culture is simply encouraging passivity, a tendency to get bored of the toy very quickly, and a consumer culture that says, “find me something to do” rather than “let’s make this work in our own way and extend the fun!”?
I want to grow a learner, not force a conformer. So as temporarily fun as the plastic stuff is, I won’t buy it. Her own discernment dictates my justification – she soon abandoned all the lights and noise to find a quiet corner in which to baby a wooden rattle in a box that she had emptied of plastic instruments.