Dave and I both had occasion to be in toy stores this weekend. He took the children to Toys R Us to spend some birthday money which was burning a hole in their pockets. While he did that I was at a smaller store locally doing some shopping for Easter baskets. I try to go light on candy and fill up with little things of religious significance or craft items.
Since it wasn’t crowded and I was alone I took some time to browse around, just walking aimlessly around the store. There were very few things I recognized from my own childhood. We were a game family. Checkers; chess; card games; Parchessi; Scrabble; Battleship; Life; and many more. Everything I saw seemed based on a cartoon character or an electronic device. Very little of what was there encouraged imagination or logic or even a bit of creativity. I found it kind of sad. Even the craft section seemed, to me, a little inappropriate for encouraging artistic ability or creativity. There were many kits to make your own lip gloss and nail polish and for some reason, sticking little rhinestones on your belly to imitate a tatoo (recommended age 4 and up).
I am not saying there is anything wrong with making your own lip gloss (we are, after all, a house full of girly girls here) but when there are more offerings to make lip gloss and feather pocketbooks than paint-by-numbers; weaving looms and sewing kits I think the wrong message may be getting across. Everything does not have to be glittery and accomplished in ten minutes. Some things are worth taking time over.
Last year I taught Erin how to play checkers. She loved the game and took to it immediately. She can now whip me at a game in no time flat. I was never very good at checkers and I am abysmal at chess because these are games that require patience (I have none) and a keen eye for what’s coming ahead. Wanting to become better at the game has encouraged Erin to slow down and think. It’s a shame the game didn’t have the same effect on me.
The value of these games of my childhoood is that by playing and mastering them a child increases problem solving skills, logical thinking and learns the value of healthy competition with an actual human being. Sportsmanship, fair play and courtesy also are developed and tested in playing board games and games of imagination. I just don’t see some of the toys I observed this weekend doing any of that.
So I decided then and there that here in the Bonny Blue House we will eschew all of that “twaddle” and play the old fashioned, slightly more complicated, games. We will continue to make candles, sculpy crafts, paper crafts, and handwork.
Dave brought the children home with a few new PlayStation games and a DVD.
As always, here is Mom going against the tide….