Saturday, December 09, 2006

the annual toy dilemma - phooey

Somehow, I lack the energy to get het up about the evils of toys. I've condensed this rant to these simple ideas:

toys with batteries tend to be problematic, if not annoying
toys that tell kids how to play with them are problematic
toys that keep kids from using their imaginations are worse than problematic
toys that are really an excuse to have your kid play with them, rather than with you, well, you get the idea.

For those of you who want to see the experts handle this, try this:
Boston Globe and childhood development. For people shopping for boyish boys, I recommend also Mothering magazine's article on violent play, in their November-December 2006 issue. Mothering tends to be aggressively lactivist, arguing passionately about the overly aggressive influence of medicine on childbirth and child rearing, so I expected them simply to recite that violent play is bad, bad, bad. Boy, was I surprised. And even more so to find myself agreeing. Sometimes, even violent playacting serves a necessary purpose. (Did I really say that? No, wait, I did.) I come from a home full of aggressive people, in your face, using their bodies as well as their voices to make a point. I find that overwhelming, disrespectful, and just plain upsetting - leaving me on continual watch for such behavior in my children. And yet.

for anyone else, move on. I say, pick a toy that the kid can use a bunch of ways, that doesn't require batteries, that interests them in the world around them, and then hang around and play with them. Toss in a little eco-sensitivity if you can. Don't throw money (unless it's in the cause of funding my kids' education), throw time at the child, and everybody will walk away happy. Capice?

Right then. If you are wondering, yes, this year Chanuka gifts are coming for the kids - a xylophone for the Toddles, and I still don't know what for the Eldest. (His birthday is coming, so we're going for fairly low-key over Chanuka. Suggestions, anyone?) For the Man, however, I have this (if you are my partner, click here. Anyone else, click here.). Yes, I trade heavily on his good temper and affection. And on my child's food source. self-satisfied pat

And onward we go. I'm finally finished filling out kindergarten application forms (what are my son's expectations for himself? To leap tall buildings in a single bound? And where is Sam the Wise going to school? I'm almost afraid to ask.), the Man and I are settling into our annual wintry budgetary negotiations, and planning the Eldest's fifth birthday party. Limited to five and only five guests, he chose wisely and well. By this I mean, of course, that he chose to invite both of his cousins, saving us some uncomfortable familial discussions.

Plans for the party are to make a sort of stage, have puppet and mask crafts, and give each child a canvas bag to carry their work home with them. Some light snacks and 'performance times' and presto! We have a party. No big heaping pile of gifts, barring those for the present swap - I saw this at another birthday celebration and admired the idea. I'll report as to whether it works or not...

Briefly, however, gDiapering continues well. We've learned the limitations of our toilet (one g but not two in a row), and I'm trying a combination of g-diapers and cloth inserts, thanks to a line of inquiry sparked by Mom in Israel. And NAET is sputtering along. Having done two meridian sessions on the Eldest, we've done an egg treatment for the Toddles, and are moving on to the third treatment tomorrow. Calcium group tomorrow, I believe, including...dairy! As my mother-in-law says, if we don't try it, it certainly won't work for our boys, but there's a serious leap of faith here. Caught between the allopathic (Western) and complementary traditions, I'm hovering: when the Toddles had roseola recently, I consulted both doctors - and gave neither remedy. Of course, with viral illness, one can afford such indecision...and with a corn allergy, who can find a safe ibuprofen or acetaminophen for children? Ridiculous but true.


dykewife said...

gift ideas for a 5 year old, huh? well, lego is always good because he can play with it by himself and with you (and eventually the little one) but the little pieces could cause issues with a toddler around.

k'nex is also good with lots of variety of kits to choose from.

an insect kit is good, if he's into that sort of thing. usually they come with a little net cage for observing the insect, a net, a magnifying glass and sometimes a book of insects.

anything dinosaur, books, play figures...umm...

gee, it's been a long time since i purchased for 5 year old types. oh, stamps, not postage stamps, but the kind that you press into an ink pad and press onto paper. if your guy is at all artsy, that'd work.

that's my brain drained of ideas. i'm sure you've thought them already, but one never knows.

joy said...

Do you have Tinkertoys? I have fond memories of Tinkertoys and a few pictures to prove it.