Brayden and my niece Jackie playing with Tonka Trucks and splashing in a real mud puddle.
We were previledged to live near a spectacular independant toy store, called the Toy Chest in Nashville IN. Now we have moved and we sorely miss it. It had so many great imaginative toys. Very few had batteries and there were NO video games. I have some definite beliefs about toys. You may not like them, that's ok.
Video games are fun, I had an Atari way back in the day. It was great in the winter to have something fun to do. We would play as a family and it was a great bonding time for us. But so many parents (YES I SAID PARENTS!) abuse these toys. Children will be children, if you give them an addictive toy like a video game and just let them go with no rules, they they will play until the proverbial cows come home. Parents have to use these toys responsibly, there must be limits. I get a little flamey when I see a family out to dinner and the kids noses are buried in their DS games and they are not communicating with the family whatsoever. Geez I don't know why the family unit is breaking down, could it be that no one TALKS to each other anymore?! Video games are not your babysitter. Yes I know it is easier to sic your kids on the Wii than to make them help you clean, cook and fold clothes. But is that really preparing them for real life? Not to mention while you are working side by side with your child you strengthen your connection them. Video games do not subsitite for real human interaction. I was at the local childrens science museum on Saturday and saw an overwieght little boy with a t-shirt that said, "This is my "I'm playing video games don't talk to me" shirt!" Really people?? What kind of adults are going to come out of this kind of mentality? Scary.
Don't get me wrong, video games are fun, they are not evil and I will let my kids play them at other people houses, if they are age appropriate. However, I have a child that would be a video zombie if I let her, she gets sucked into any screen even if its empty. We have to have common sense with these things. I saw a mom walk into a store yesterday with her two boys, about 10 and 12 walking behind her like robots with their DS's, they never looked up once. First of all, I don't know how they don't fall and bust their faces open and second......uugggh. How are these kids going to learn to live in the real world if they are lost in a virtual one? Running errands and shopping with Mom teaches kids how to interact with others, how to negotiate, how to get good deals and save money, so many things. We couch shopped for 5 hours yesterday with our kids. It was a little crazy at times. (Brenna loved the "power" recliners and we had to moderate her useage!) But they learned a lot from just being with us, even though they had no idea they were learning anything. Would it have been easier to have them "plugged in" to a video game ....sure, but I am trying to raise a human here not a damn robot. And as Professor Albus Dumbeldore said "there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”
Unplugged play gets a little messy sometimes. But hey, mud puddles are made for splasing, right?!
So back to my original reason for writing. I wanted to give the kids the opportunity to spend some of their own money that they had recieved from relatives from previous birthdays. I needed to look for something at Toy's R Us (no cool independent toys stores here) for their legos (which we have really gotten into in the last half year). They had never been into a Toy's r Us before. Brayden called it "Toy's for Us"! So funny, I'm sure he isn't the only child that has called it that! I talked to them about getting a good deal and what that looked like. It is a combination of getting something you really like and getting it at a low price. First we stopped by Barnes & Noble because I said they could by books or toys. Brenna spotted a $13 Harry Potter sticker book. We talked about how that really wasn't a good deal, because stickers aren't something you can play with over and over. She decided not to get it and we went to TRU. She found some "Cars" lego cars that were dicounted and she got 3 of those, she was very excited and I was happy that she got a good deal. Brayden picked out a lego car that could be made into 3 different cars, that made me happy because it was something he would enjoy. Before going into the store we also discussed begging and how there would be none and if there was, the said toy begged for would never be purchased. I told them it was ok to say how cool something was and how much they liked it, but no begging! So Brayden had already picked out his lego set and he came upon a wooden marble chase. He was about to beg, then said, "Oh, I need to say, this is really cool Mom!!" I looked at it, it was 50% off and was $20, just the amount I had let them bring. So I said he could put back what he'd picked and buy that. I have never seen him more excited! What was funny is that I have wanted to get him one of these for about 2 years now, because I knew he'd enjoy it. When he went to bed that night he said, "Tomorrow, I may do a few things, but mostly I want to play with my marble chase!" I said, "You really like that don't you?" He said, "It's the best thing I've ever had in my whole life!!" I love that kid! I'm so proud that he picked such a neat toy! He will get hours of enjoyment out of it as will his sister, she loved it too! Yes, it is a little messy and he needs some help with it, but the learning and joy he gets from it will be worth it.
B & B with the marble chase. Yes my daughter likes to go shirtless, I'm letting her do it while she can!
What are your toy philosophies?