It’s interesting to look back now at how I used to view toys, especially with holidays coming up. I believed having a handful or two of toys was the way to go, otherwise, it was excessive, consumeristic, and not to mention I’d probably be spoiling my child by giving him every toy he asks for.
It’s interesting to look back now at how I used to view toys, especially with holidays coming up. I’ll be frank. I believed having a handful or two of toys was the way to go, otherwise, it was excessive (especially for a self-declared minimalist), consumeristic, and not to mention I’d probably be spoiling my child by giving him every toy he asks for.
I imagine you may now wonder what kind of childhood I had to be thinking this way. I grew up with about a handful or two of store-bought toys. I was also a late 80s and 90s baby who grew up in a developing country to give further context.
Most of the toys I had or the fun I had was imaginative. I remember catching bees in empty Coke and Sprite bottles and pretending it was a radio. I remember wandering around dense tree areas pretending I was the heroine of some epic coming-of-age novel where magic was definitely included. I would snag Vienna sausage cans from breakfast that morning and sneak under our house where I’d make a fire and pretend to cook with the can as my pot.
To an extent, I believe toys that do all the work can remove the significance of imagination. Creativity is so ripe at a young age that certain toys don’t leave room for what could be because it’s as if there is nothing else to add.
However, when I became a parent, I began to see that if you brought the right toys that do just enough, it wouldn’t necessarily remove the spark of imagination. A toy or two that does it all, a few with basic functions that leave space for imaginative play, and a few in the middle is more balanced.
The most important thing I’ve learned so far is to buy where my toddler’s curiosity sits. He was given Legos and he has little to no interest in them (right now). I probably would have thought of getting some because of its versatility, but that’s not what he’s interested in.
He LOVES mobiles: cars, trucks, airplanes, trains, and skateboards. He plays with almost all of these every day. When he got into the “Cars” movie trilogy, we got him a small remote control Lightning McQueen car, which he’s obsessed with.
When we walk through Target’s entrance filled with toy eye candy, I don’t get him anything he doesn’t have natural joy for already, or I just don’t get anything at all (so hard, right?!)!
Instead of seeing buying him what he’s interested in as consumeristic and potentially veering into the spoiled child arena, I see it now as expanding his current interests.
If I decided not to fuel his love of mobiles, I could be robbing him of his desire to learn more. Maybe giving him cars, airplanes, trucks, and airplanes will help him become an engineer or mechanic one day. Maybe giving him airplanes will help him realize he wants to be a pilot. Maybe he’ll become an amazing skateboarder.
If there’s a “maybe”, I believe it must be nourished. If he no longer loves mobiles, we’ll donate them or exchange them for newer interests. We never know what we can help flourish by gifting thoughtfully.
I always got dolls and other domestic toys as a kid. While I’m pretty good at being a caregiver, a mom, and taking care of the household, I would have loved a guitar (or another instrument) when I was a preteen, a bicycle, or an old-fashioned typewriter because those were my interests as a kid.
I wish I could play guitar better now (or just any instrument really). I wish I learned how to ride a bicycle early, too. These were all maybes that didn’t get filled. These were potentially lost possibilities of skills and interests I could have now.
All the same, it turned out the way it did for a reason, and there are no accidents. It taught me to be a more thoughtful gift-buying person and parent, and hopefully, it provided you with some insight as well.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Nadia Rumbolt
Nadia Rumbolt is a mom of many trades, including creative writing, blogging, van life, minimalism, veganism, the beach, nature, and the occult.