Like most cliches: I want the best for my kids. I love to see them happy. I’d do (almost) anything for them.
I’ve found myself at discount stores, boutiques and gift shops debating whether to pay the reduced, retail or inflated price for some toy, gadget, puzzle, knickknack or souvenir for my toddlers. More times than not, I’ve restrained although TJ Maxx and Daffy’s are weaknesses.
One reason for my hesitation is space; I’m in a Manhattan apartment where every inch feels precious but the main deterrent is my kids need nothing. They have such an abundance of toys that I’ve taken to putting a collection in a closet. When they are bored with the toys that are readily accessible, we replace the hidden toys with tired ones and repeat the cycle. The kids are excited to use something that have not used “in a long time” and I’m thrilled that half the time I don’t have to stare at a pile of forgotten plastic.
We have a toy kitchen at my mother’s house with just a few plastic plates. I’ve been so tempted to buy toy food but every time they go in the kitchen they happily prepare “meals” and do not notice any void. I think it’s my own projection of seeing the toys in the stores and at friends’ homes that I think my kids ought to have more.
Then there are the moments that my kids will spend happily engaged with a cardboard box. It becomes a house, a car, a tunnel, a space ship, a canvas. I watch them laugh and use their imaginations to think of new scenarios to act and think I will never buy another toy again. It’s almost enough to encourage me to shop more online. And when they are done, I break the boxes up and deposit them in the recycling bin.
Of course they still manage to bicker when they want to. “I want the big box.” “That’s not a seat belt.” “No you can’t drive to the moon, you can only fly and I have the only rocket ship.” But that’s what siblings do, and I imagine even if they had the exact same toys (which in rare cases they do – like those ridiculous spinners I had to buy when taking them to a kids’ show) they can still find a reason to argue.
It’s easy to get caught up in the nonsense of buying more especially when each toy advertises it’s educational aspects. A box on a plastic truck I purchased for a present read: promotes interaction, develops hand-eye coordination and stimulates imagination. I try to take a step back and remember that Einstein and Mozart never had Baby Einstein or Baby Mozart CDs.