Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Knight in Shining Armour

Does it take a lot to play make believe with your kiddos?

If you've got empty wrapping paper rolls and duct tape you can create a sword to duel with. If you've got some sheets or towels you can tie them around your shoulders and be super heroes. Pillows and couch cushions make the best forts and castles. Toilet paper rolls can be turned into telescopes or binoculars. Shoeboxes make great doll houses. Heck, if a cardboard box is big enough, it can be colored and decorated to be like a log cabin.

Kids don't require the best toys. Or the newest. They don't need them. Sure they might want every pretty colorful thing they see on the shelves in stores... but they don't need them. Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

Sometimes I think we worry too much about what everyone ELSE has gotten their kids.... or what everyone ELSE thinks about what WE have gotten for our OWN kids... that we forget they don't need any of it. Again, I realize all the new stuff is fun to play with, and yes, my kids have lots of toys... but whatever happened to all the other stuff.

When I was younger, my brother and I used to make paper bag masks using nothing but paper bags (duh), glue, and construction paper. We tried to make our own clothes once (my tshirt I made was an epic fail, my brother actually got to wear his one time). My mom and I even made our own hair clips and jewelry out of plastic that we had to melt, then shape, then glue together. We used to go on family trips to the battlefields in the area. Those battlefields were only 5 minutes away from my house, but being little it felt like a whole lot longer. We'd go "hiking" in there for what seemed like hours. Looking at all the trenches and trees.

We put puzzles together and played board games. At lunch we'd have picnics on a blanket in the living room. My nephew, my brother, and I could play hide and seek in the house for HOURS. Or we'd play knee hockey in my brother's room. My brother and I cut milk jugs in half, put dirt in them, got some worms, and planted vegetables or flowers or tree seeds in them. My grandparents used to play card games with us and gave us plastic trinkets as prizes. My parents, my brother, and I would take trips to historical landmarks or sometimes just take drives around and listen to silly songs the entire trip.

Lydia has got what seems like hundreds of toys. Ninety percent of them don't get played with. Ninety percent of THAT ninety percent she doesn't even know are THERE. It's just stuff people bought because it looked like fun. And all it does is take up space. I got both of my kids electronic kitchens for Christmas in 2008. Alanna got a Disney Princess kitchen and Lydia got an Elmo kitchen. I can probably count the number of times they actually played with them they way they were inteded on one hand. ONE HAND. It's nuts.

Kids don't need toys. Toys are fun to play with. But seriously... if they didn't have toys.... they would find other things to occupy their time. It's not a necessity to have the latest and greatest thing. Lydia likes to build towers out of toilet paper. And use my DVD rack as a stage for her My Little Pony show. And those ponies? All belonged to her sister or came in a McDs happy meal. I didn't have to buy her a single new pony. And guess what... she doesn't care.

I feel like we are stifling imagination and creativity in our children these days. We get them things that take all of the work out of playing. If that makes sense to anyone.

You can be a knight in shining armour without paying for anything more than tinfoil.

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