Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On Toys.

We had a playdate last night, and it made me think.  A friend of Chevi's came over after school, which had her thrilled beyond measure and bouncing off the walls.  As I puttered in the kitchen, putting the finishing touches on supper, I kept hearing the little girl's plaintive refrain:  "But where are your toys?"  I popped my head out after the third request to see how my kiddos would respond.  "Do you want to draw?"  Chevi asked.  Negative.  "We have lots of books,"  Rachmy offered, leading her to the wall o' kiddie-lit.  "Your toys.  Dress ups?" the baffled child persisted.  "The dress ups are in the Purim box in the attic," Chevi said, stymied..  "How about Memory or Guess Who," I called out, hoping to appease them before my daughter was made aware of her apparent toylessness.  "But don't you have any toys?"  worried her little friend.  Rachmy plunged into the basement and returned, triumphant, with a Playskool garage and a handful of matchbox cars.  "Are there any people?" our visitor queried politely.

As I served supper (chicken-chickpea curry with brown rice, go me!) I reflected on her questions.  Surely we have toys in the house---I have six children!  I made a quick mental inventory.  Games?  Yup.  Dolls?  Yup.  (Even down to a Mommy-made quilt, blanket, and pillow, thank you very much...)  Little plastic animals and Matchbox cars?  Thanks, Nana!  Books, books and more books.  Lego?  Got it, but it stays in the boys' room...  Ditto the Playmobil.  Hula hoops, beanbags, and tin-can stilts?  Check.  Loads of letter magnets, puppets and jigsaw puzzles, an Etch-a-Sketch and a Magna-Doodle... but beyond that, nada.  

I squinched my eyes shut and thought hard.  What in the Sam Hill do they do all day?  Am I depriving my kids?  And if I am, why aren't they complaining?  I resolved to pay more attention on the morrow, and trundled off to bed.

This morning, the vast majority of my subjects headed off to school, leaving me with only Shani to observe.  She spent a half an hour sliding crayons down the ramp of the aforementioned Playskool garage.  She scribbled relentlessly with said crayons in her "journal."  She fed her doll and "packed a lunch" for the two of them in the kitchen.  She pushed the doll around the dining room in her stroller and then hid the crayons in the basket underneath.  She washed her hands, the bathroom sink, and much of the floor before I caught her. She folded washcloths and napkins and helped sort the laundry.  We tossed a beanbag back and forth. She's napping now, exhausted from her morning's exertions, and I'm not feeling particularly compelled to run to Goodwill to stock up on toys.

Over the years we've had cubbies overflowing with pegs and pegboards, linking toys, and every possible educational manipulative on the market.  We've had talking, buzzing, tweeting electronic devices from revenge-seeking well-meaning relatives, and even the odd Barbie or two.  But what my kids play with for the most part is each other.  We've phased out the useless bits and pieces over the years and stuck to what works for us.  What do you think?  What keeps your kids busy and happy?


  1. Mrs B,
    don't you do anything. Don't you buy anything. Your children have everything. Tears in my eyes.

  2. Toys schmoys!! We only have the basics and It does the trick in our house and sounds like it does in your house as well. Kids that come to play just have to use their imagination or kick a ball in the backyard. xx

  3. Oh here here, you know what it is - your children have EACH OTHER to play with, they don't need many toys!! Seriously, simple & hey, free fun!! We have minimal toys but my children love craft & i work from home in a studio filled with crafty goodness, win win. My children never get bored & we have zero hand held electronic anti social devices, even on long car trips, the horror, i make them talk to each other, hand stitch or look out the bloody window!! It's not hard, no batteries required!! Love Posie

  4. Fabulous! What you're doing is great - we've found the same ourselves, the toys get pushed aside and the three of them play under the table, or in the dirt in the yard. Just wonderful! Hope you guys all have a wonderful holiday! xxoo

  5. Toys, Schmoyze! Yesterday we were payed a visit by some friends who are in town to visit their families. They have a boy 38 hours younger than my own "big boy." The boys scurried upstairs, played with hotwheels for a little while, legos came next, and then they headed outside. They proceeded to have the most fun of all using an old roofing nail as a wedge to split open rocks.

    What are baby's favorite "toys?" The spit-up covered "schmatas" we use to wipe his face (and our shirts and the floor...)

  6. we moved to another house in June... most of the 'toys' are still in the boxes in the basement - few have been taken out. I'm planning to pass them on to others! You are GREAT the way you are!

  7. My babes are grown, but I can tell you, you're doing it right!



Thanks for taking the time to makes me feel a little less like I'm talking to myself again.