I think we are overrun with toys. With four children at home, that is hardly surprising. Even if a child gets toys only during birthdays and Christmases from us and some relatives, those toys will eventually accumulate over time. After seven years, our house is packed. There are toys in the attic, in the basement, in the bedrooms, in the common living areas. There are toys in the backyard, in the garage, in the toolshed. There were times when I suggested that we purge out some toys. My husband and the older children, however, were lukewarm to the idea. You see, in our household, toys, like clothes, are being handed down to the younger ones.
Because we have boys, you can imagine what kinds of toys we have. There are train sets: Thomas and friends, and Geo Tracks, and others – the number of which is enough to provide efficient transportation for our tiny State. They are parked in a basement room where the train table that my FIL and husband made was placed. I intended that room to be my craft area, my private space, when we got around to renovating it. However, I had to say goodbye to the idea when the trains came.
As the boys got older, they got interested in knights and army men and superheroes. So we have a whole battalion of plastic soldiers and tanks of all make and sizes. Then there are the swords, axe, maces, shields and helms. Our older sons sometimes pretend that they are knights duelling each other.
There are the construction toys – the diggers and excavators and dumptrucks. They were mostly banished outdoors where they do their work during spring and summer time.
Then there are the building toys – the legos, the lincoln logs, and all those toys with a gazillion pieces that carpet our floors. They do keep the children busy – busy with scattering them all over the house. For that reason, and the fact that I am often called upon to build structures with them, I count them among my least favorite toys.
Not all of the toys our children have were acquired new. Some were from yardsales and thrift shops. We got an entire crate of a Thomas trains set for $4.00. Some were hand me downs from friends. My husband has some of his childhood toys in the mix, too.
One thing I noticed about our children, and this may be true of many other children as well – is that they are not too picky with their toys. No one cares whether a toy is expensive or not. Each toy gets the same treatment, each looks ratty and well-loved at the end of the day. The children do not care that a toy is gender specific. One time, a son bought a doll house from the Salvation Army – it made a good home for the soldiers on furlough. Neither do they care if a toy’s paint is peeling or if it is missing a part. In fact, sometimes, the boys don’t even care that their toy is not really a toy, i.e., manufactured and bought from a store.
A guest in our house is likely to catch our sons playing with sticks or pieces of cardboard that they cut and turned into an armor, for instance.
One winter time, we had a big box parked in the living room, full of little holes and other appendages that were generously taped on it. It was their big tank.
And the little baby. Everything is a toy for him. If I need to distract him, I hand to him whatever safe items I have available. I let him help himself in the kitchen drawers and play with the utensils and containers. Sometimes, he would drag the broom and dustpan from their corner and happily toddle around with them. I get extra things to clean, but at least I had the time to do my job.
There are occasions when I feel overwhelmed by the toys around me. I can’t help but feel that they are intruding on my space. They make the house a little tinier than it is. It may be true but I suppose that the bigger reason for my ambivalence about toys was the fact that I did not grow up with any. My siblings and I, and our friends too, made do with what our surroundings provided for us. Thus, I grew up thinking that toys are not necessary. Be that as it may, I still like buying toys for the children and will not even contemplate on them having none at all. I understand that, though they are not absolutely necessary, toys contribute a lot to their well-being and happiness. The toys bring memories that will make their adult years happier. So now, when I see toys around, I think of the reason why they are in our house: we have children who we love dearly and want to be happy.
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