There is no other way to say it. My twin grandkids swim in toys. Literally! I mean if they attempt to walk through their toy room, they have to at least wade through it. Because their mother has given up on any attempt at keeping the toys put away and organized, they lay swimming deep in places. The only part of the floor that is clean is that which is swept by the door when it opens and closes, and even that can sometimes be a challenge. And I would venture to guess that 3/4th of the toys in there have not been played with since their original purchase, and then most likely for only a week or two. Though not near as many, they also have a fine arsenal of toys at our home to entertain themselves when visiting. But my wife does make a point from time to time at weening out the toys no longer used and sending them off to the Good Will. Of course, she continues to replace them with other toys. But at least the numbers remain manageable. Because there are far fewer toys, the twins have no choice but to at least play with a few of them. It is either that or face the monster called “Boredom,” which they will do whatever is required to stave off. But now that video games have began invading their entertainment time, even those toys are seeing less use. How things have changed since I was young. And this is where the cliche comes into play that I so loathed as a child! “Back in my day…” I cannot begin to say how many times I heard that from my parents and grandparents alike. Anytime I mentioned a need, these words rained down on me like the naval bombardment just before the D-Day invasion. But I cannot control myself. I have to say it….
When a birthday or Christmas came along “back in my day” we each received one main gift, almost always the one we asked for, with a few lesser gifts, usually being necessities, such as clothing of one kind or another. But there was one Christmas I can remember that my main gift was a BB gun, and a lesser gift was a small wrapped gift of…BB’s! How inventive was that! Because we were far from the wealthiest families in the neighborhood, if the “main” gift wasn’t too expensive, then it was purchased new. If the request was over the budget, such as a bicycle I wanted, then the gift had to be second hand. And that meant my parents had to take the time to go on a scavenger hunt to God only knows where just to make certain I received the gift I wanted; a time and trouble I could only really appreciate when I thought about it as an adult. But that didn’t mean that at the time I thought any less of my gift. No siree Bob! I was just as happy with that used bike as if it were brand new. A trip out to dad’s workshop for one of my custom paint jobs of over-spray, dripping runs, and ungodly colors, and I was proudly peddling my two-wheeler down the road for all the world to see.
Because our allotment of toys were meager, we made due by supplementing them with whatever happened to be laying around. For instance, a 55 gallon barrel made a fine horse to ride while shooting Indians and desperadoes. A “Y”ed branch carved, along with a couple strips of an old rubber inner tube made a great slingshot. I can even remember saving wooden Popsicle sticks, drawing faces on them, and making my own army of soldiers, with their battles played out on the floor. The bottom line was, “pretend” was our entertainment. And we were as content as clams at high tide while doing it!
The norm now is that if at least $200 isn’t spent on a child’s main gift, not to mention several lesser gifts, we are a total failure as a parent. I have watched kids open gifts. Almost before the torn wrapping paper has settled to the floor, the gift is being brushed to the side to make room to open the next gift. Actually contemplating the entertainment value of a discarded gift is only an afterthought when all the other gifts have been opened. When my sisters and I got our “main” gift we relished it and wanted to play with them IMMEDIATELY! After all, any other gifts remaining we knew would be clothing. Even though we were very happy to wear them when the time came, the bottom line was, kids don’t have fun with clothes. Playing while wearing them, yes. But not actually playing with them. Some things about kids never change with time.
I do not in any shape or form attempt to make out that my family was impoverished. We weren’t. We had food whenever we wanted it, and as kids were allowed the joy of just being kids. But even if we truly had been poor, I am quite sure that as long as I had loving and caring parents, food in my belly, and a roof over my head, my gift could have been almost anything and I would have been happy. I mean I had toys all around me, for crying out loud! All just waiting to be discovered by my imagination. And they were free. They still are.Though there were others who were not amused, I even found entertainment in a discarded mannequin. That story can be found in my post, The Art Of Levitating-Part 3.
There is a passage in the Bible that says, “All things that are seen are temporary. All things unseen are eternal. Toys are temporary. Our imagination is eternal. Or, as I prefer wording it,..forever and ever and ever and ever. When given the chance, your child’s imagination can be a virtual wonderland of discovery. And instead of cluttering up a playroom, imaginary toys are always neatly stored away in their brains for future use.