Before Maya was born, I had a pretty specific idea of what I wanted her toys to look like. I didn’t want princesses, or other licensed characters, worming their way into her little psyche. I didn’t want giant, plastic, pieces of crap. I didn’t want things with a billion parts that always got lost under the couch.
For her first birthday, I requested toys made of natural materials, board books and clothes… or, better, no gifts at all.
The problem is… well, I’m the problem. I was a child with not a lot of things. I remember very vividly most of the toys I did have, when I got them, who gave them to me. I loved each one. I used to tuck my favourites under my pillow at night so I could tell if they had been coming to life while I slept. As an adult, I can see this wasn’t a problem! But as a kid, I wanted the fancy toys my friends had, with toys of tiny pieces and computers in them that made them talk. So many board games, and not just the weird ones that we had from the thrift store (my brother and I played a lot of this gamed called Yuppies, which is hilarious to me now). Having few toys was great for me as a kid, I just didn’t know it until now.
But what happens when an adult with few toys grows up and has a kid of her own? She wants to BUY ALL THE THINGS for that child. Because what could be better than having one or two favourite toys? Having SO MANY TOYS THEY ARE EVERYWHERE AND I LOVE THEM ALL.
Except that nope… she doesn’t love all her toys. She is bored of her toys. She makes a huge mess with her toys and I step on them, and then I have to ‘help her clean up’ which basically means saying “Get your bear, put him in the toy box. Good! Get your dog, put him in the toy box, etc”. It is hard to not just clean up all the toys, and remember that teaching her a lifeskill is more important. And it’s even harder to not just make her a cornhusk doll (I actually had some of these as a kid!) and throw everything out and then move somewhere that you can’t even buy toys and kids just play outside all day and braid each other’s hair (let me know if you know of this place)
Because I’m not the only one buying Maya toys. Everyone likes to do it! She is the youngest child in my family and in Simon’s family. I get it, I really do. When I hear that we get to attend a child’s birthday party, I think “YAY! I get to buy toys!” Except now I try to remember that most families are probably also drowning in toys.
We’ve tried to keep Maya’s interest in her toys by dividing everything into thirds and rotating them every week or so. But now, a “new” box of toys keeps her attention for 10 minutes. And an actually new toy from the store keeps her attention for 10 minutes… and then it gets chucked in one of the toy bins, hopefully before I manage to step on it.
Today, while she napped, we went through all of her toys. We put together a bag for charity. Another bag went into storage, full of infant toys that are just too simple for Maya now. Everything else got sorted by type (cars, musical instruments, puzzles), and put into containers so she can choose an activity. Hopefully we can get her to do one activity at a time and replace it on the shelf before starting something else! But at least we all like the toys that remain.
So please, if you are one of those excellent people that we love, and who loves to buy Maya toys, please wait! She really doesn’t need anything more right now. I think I might put together a little wishlist for her so people can still spoil her if they want to.
I hope that fewer toys will help Maya appreciate what she has. I hope it will help her focus on one what she’s doing. I hope that she will not feel like she always needs something new or different to be happy. I hope it will help her to be creative.
But really? I just hope for another year or two of peace before she starts demanding big plastic pieces of crap with princesses on them..