Thursday, April 2, 2009


There have been a lot of things that surprise me about parenting. And one of the things I've been thinking about lately is how much I love giving gifts to my children. I love seeing them happy.

Now, hold on a minute here. Before you let your eyes roll, hear me out. I know it seems obvious that parents would enjoy seeing their children happy, but what is surprising to me is how much I love seeing them happy. And the lengths I would go to for those expressions of joy. I put them on carnival rides. I tickle their bellies. I play with them in the snow. And I buy them gifts. All for the double whammy effect: they're bursting with joy and I am too.

Maybe it's hormonal.

Anyway, Easter is upon us. And I've put in many hours of internet research on what toys I want to get for them. I've taken into account their ages, interests, what they already have, how long the toys will last (both in durability and in play value), where we would put them and well, if the toys are cute. It's not so bad tripping on a toy if the toy is cute. Just telling it like it is.

So, I ordered some of these cars for Isaac. And when they came yesterday, the company wisely sent along a catalog. So, I showed the catalog to Andrew. His first Looking-In-A-Toy-Catalog experience.

He flips through it past the baby toys, past the stuffed animals and then he finds this. And Oh. My. Goodness.

First he traces the track and shows me exactly how the balls get from the top to the bottom. Then he closes the catalog and flips through it until he finds the toy again. As though he's playing hide-and-seek. He flips from the front. He flips from the back. He tries opening it to the right page in the middle.

I think he's drawn to building things.

Anyway, I want your opinion. Andrew already has train tracks, legos, tinker toys, a work bench, and wooden blocks (and this does not include the cardboard boxes and couch cushions and banana peels and other things he finds that he can build with). Wouldn't you say we have enough toys to use for building? Shouldn't I be encouraging other areas of Andrew?

The question is not so much "should I buy this track for Andrew?" but more "If he has and loves one kind of thing (construction materials) do we run with it, or do we try to encourage other kinds of play?" Is telling Andrew that he has enough toys to build with like telling me that I have enough craft supplies?

I asked Dave and showed him the track and Dave said, "I had something like that. Andrew likes to play with the toys I used to play with!" Dave loves the track, thinks we should get it, or something like it, and I imagine that Dave has every intention of playing with it himself.

Anyway, this is something I've been thinking about and thought I would throw it out there. What do you think?


Danielle said...

Andrew has good taste!!

Mama V said...

You give gifts for Easter?! You DO love to see them happy!

Oh man. I don't know about this. I feel like we get enough *stuff* for the boys from friends and family that I even have to stash some away to pull out during the non-usual gift giving times of the year. I have ever purchased a train for Lucas, but I think that's pretty much it in all these years outside of Christmas. Crazy.

I wouldn't worry about whether or not ya'll should encourage him down one path or another. I think it's amazing that he has a particular, consistent, and lasting passion at such a young age! You seem to regularly give him a taste of other activities anyway -- crafting and art, baking and cooking, outside play, etc. What else is left?! That kid is so darn happy because you've allowed him to just be himself!

Although I did take a glance at the toy and panicked over Isaac and all of those marbles. This mama has to chill out!

Does it also help you to think about whether or not a toy would not only be a favorite or long-lasting but also if it's versatile and can be used in more than one way than originally intended? Sort of like Alton Brown's little rule that no one kitchen tool should be used for only one purpose. (Do you live by that rule in the kitchen, by the way?) This way the junk is kept to a minimum but more importantly there's the potential for his imagination and creativity to grow, etc. (although Andrew's clearly not lacking in those departments either).

Andrew: David's mini-me. That's so adorable.

Robyn said...

Yeah, I give Easter gifts. Little baskets with little gifts. A couple toy cars for Isaac, a puzzle and book for Andrew. Nothing crazy. Bubbles. A flashlight. You know, little stuff. Sort of like a larger version of a Christmas stocking.

I just can't help myself!

Yeah, I think most of our toys are multi-purpose...I think. I guess by that I mean the train tracks can be rearranged to make all kinds of tracks. That kind of multi-purpose. And I do sort of have that kitchen rule too. Though I do have a few gems that do one thing, but it's a one thing that I do a lot (like a nut chopper).

Shannon said...

I know what you mean Robyn...we have so many (too many) toys but it is so fun seeing them happy.

And that marble thing looks really cool! I actually bookmarked it. The only thing that would make me nervous is the marbles around Isaac. I know Noah would love that toy too but I would be too nervous right now.

They are only kids once!

Cat said...

If it weren't for Isaac, I'd love this game! I would be way too stressed to have all those marbles rolling around... I agree with mama V, Andrew does get to do different things... I wouln't worry about that. As for Easter, I do a simple egg chase (inside) A few little chocolates and that's it.

Susan said...

that does look seriously cool but I'm with everyone else on the nervous-about -marbles thing. Even if you didn't have an infant it seems like you'd always be chasing after marbles so Andrew could play with it.

My kids (bot of them--but more Joseph) are totally obsessed with building toys, too. I think it's an age and gender thing (sorry if that offends anyone!). I tend towards having more of the same thing. This Christmas I tried to encourage adding to our collection of Tinker Toys and Duplos rather than acquiring different building sets (it didn't work, by the way). But I really can't deal with toy clutter.

We hardly ever buy toys for our kids--that must be so fun. Ours get too many already from other family.

Robyn said...

So funny that the marbles is so obvious to everyone else. That's the kind of thing I wouldn't notice until he had one in his mouth! oye vey. Today at the park complete strangers were telling me Isaac was putting little sticks in his mouth while I was looking away trying to find Andrew. I am looking forward to this "everything in the mouth" stage to come to a close. ug.

Susan, I like your idea about more Tinker Toys. Sometimes I think that would be a good way to go. I mean, it's not like Andrew is sitting around wondering what to do and wishing for more things. Definitely not. But, when I imagine what he could do with more Tinker Toys, it seems pretty exciting.

And, for the record! Andrew is getting a puzzle for Easter! A puzzle! PLEASE don't think I am going crazy with Easter gifts! ;) ok....glad that is off my chest...

Melissa Buecher said...

I have a 4.5 year old boy who loves all things boy, but one thing that's a little different but super fun for him is having a drawer full of dress-ups. His drawer has a bunch of superhero halloween costumes I got on sale after Halloween, plus capes, swords, hats, etc. He loves to play pretend and since his sisters have oodles of princess dress ups, it only seems fair that he have somthing too!

Firefly said...

Robyn, enough scrapbook supplies already!