Monday, March 22, 2010

Please, please, play with your toys!

Every time I see a guy go nuts over a car or a fancy-antsy gun, I can only roll my eyes, shake my head and mumble, "Men and their toys." I think the appreciation for "toys" comes a lot later in life for the males of the human race. As a toddler, my daughter played with her toys to her heart's content. The same cannot be said of her 2-year-old brother.

My son has lots of toys, particularly toy cars since he is so fond of cars. He also has a toy tool set, stuffed animals, toy bowling game and lots of baby-friendly blocks. Yet it seems that all of these sources of fun and excitement are lost on him whenever he has the chance to play with them.

Actually, he'd rather "play" with things that are NOT toys. Say, the remote control for the TV set. The swarm of cords and cables in the desk drawer. And, unfortunately, the various chemicals and cleaning agents that are kept underneath the kitchen sink.

I can't even begin to count the many times I've had to explain to the baby that these "grown up things" are not toys. I might as well be speaking in a foreign language to him every time I say something like "we don't play with the toothbrush" or "the drill is NOT a toy!"

Having access to his toys is not a problem. I actually cornered off an area of the living room for his "play area," where the bulk of his toys are kept ready for him to grab and use. They have been sitting there for days -- neglected, forgotten and unloved. Once in a great while, he might grab his toy saw and start using it on the desk. Or maybe some of the time, he'll take a toy duck he has by the cord and pull it around the room. (This toy is actually a hand-me-down from his older sister.) But for the most part, he prefers to play with other things. Like his dad's pocket watch. The giant paper shredder by the desk. The vacuum cleaner which we usually keep in the hall closet but he somehow always manages to get out of there to play with. And, of course, the trusted telephone we usually keep high on a shelf. (Never mind his toy phone. It's not as cool as the real thing!)

It has gotten to the point where, when a birthday or Christmas comes up, I'll tell family member PLEASE do not send the baby anymore toys. He has enough toys that are, alas, most often ignored. I doubt holding off on buying him more toys will get him to appreciate the toys he does have because first he has to notice that they even exist. So while I'm trying to cut down on the army of toys both kids have, I am still trying to encourage my toddler to take notice of these fun things he has to enjoy and learn from before he is too old for them. Maybe that's my attempt to tell myself money was not wasted on toys a child didn't even want. Or maybe that is just me hoping he will distract himself with his real toys long enough for me to grab his favorite non-toys and hide them under lock and key.

I could use the same lecture I have at the ready anytime my kids refuse to eat their food: There are children in this world who can't have as much stuff as you do. And it's true. I know there are children who don't have as many toys as each of my children do, just as there are children who are not fortunate to have as much clothes as they do or as much food to eat as they do. In this case, however, we're talking about a child who is 2 and sees climbing the furniture to be much more funner than stacking blocks. Maybe later on he'll appreciate his "toys." Quite likely when he's a teenager with a cell phone and VERY likely when he's a grown man with his own car to drive. For now, the toys he has remain items of occasional diversion, nothing more.


Anonymous said...

my oldest loved her toys, my youngest would rather play with stuff around the house, thats the way it is, ha ha
Only just THIS year have i started putting chemicals under the sink again, when the kids were babies I just put them up high. Also knives were not kept in the silverware drawer when one of my sisters kids got a knife and hurt himself, after that I got a little paranoid and put them all in a container far far out of reach.

A fave toy both my babies loved...a big cardboard box. Ha ha

Dawn Colclasure said...

Ah, yes. The cardboard box. Now THERE'S a toy that will never go out of fashion. LOL