My Mom Confession…I Don’t Like Toys.
When I was a child, my family lived in a small town. Making the hour long trek to the “big city” for a shopping trip was always a treat. It was an even bigger treat when the city finally got the greatest store ever…Toys R Us. My child-sized heart beat with joy every time I caught a glimpse. I would ask, “Can we go in? Please?!” At first my requests were met with a lovely “yes.” But soon, after the novelty wore off, “no” was more frequently the answer.
One day, after receiving a “no,” I was feeling particularly nasty. I remember looking my mother in the eye and telling her, “When you are old and in a wheelchair, I am going to take you to Toys R Us and wheel you around, and you won’t be able to do anything about it!” Now, more than a few years later, I have had a change of heart.
While I am no longer planning my mother’s long, torturous shopping trip, I am also not planning one of my own. The truth is, I don’t enjoy toy stores. I’m not even really a huge fan of toys. (Gasp!) Don’t get me wrong–there is something fun and special about a toy store, or even just a toy section in a store, that makes you want to get everything down and push all the buttons. Once those buttons have been pushed, however, and I have seen what they can do, I am done. My kids are, too.
I used to get frustrated. We spent a lot of money on toys. Once the novelty wore off they tended to just sit around, waiting to be be played with again. I couldn’t believe it. All those toys and my kids had “nothing” that they wanted to do. So I began analyzing…when was the last time I really sat down with them and just played with toys? Perhaps that was why they had little interest in playing with them. I may be good for a few minutes here and there, but that’s about it. After a few minutes, I am done. How long can I entertain myself with a few blocks or a doll who just sits there? For me, it’s not very long.
Whether or not you are into Montessori education, you might know Maria Montessori’s quote, “Play is the work of the child.” I agree that children need to play and it is important for them. It stretches the imagination and enables them to learn life skills in a fun way. I also know that I need to sit down and play with my kids more. I am great at planning fun outings and singing and dancing with my kids in the car. I love to read them a great children’s book. But I fall short when it comes to just playing with them and letting them choose and lead the way. Whether or not we are actually playing with toys, I need to make sure my children and I are playing together.
I want my kids to become independent thinkers who don’t have to be told every move to make. I want them to have fun while they learn. When they’re grown, I want them to remember that Mom was fun and she enjoyed spending time with them. I want them to know that their favorite stuffed animal or toy was important to me simply because it was important to them. So I need to get better at just sitting down with them one on one and simply playing–anything at all. I may never be the mom who sits down for an hour and loses track of time with the newest fad toy. But I can be the mom who, at the very least, spends 10 minutes a day with each child, letting them lead the way. A little more play time in my life is a reward that I truly need, but not as much as precious time and closeness to my children.
“But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy.” 2 Timothy 3:1-2 HCSB
I can’t say whether or not these are the last days, but these verses do ring true in my ears. I shouldn’t be so in love with myself that I can’t spare time for my children. I shouldn’t think myself so important that I only spend time cleaning, doing laundry, and homeschooling. That’s enough for anyone. But I must add playing to my list–for myself and for my children. I don’t want my children to become disobedient because they don’t see that I really truly care, not just about behavior and results, but about their hearts.
So let’s get out those toys (or cardboard boxes, or games, or whatever)…and play!
About the Author: Tara is a Jesus-lover, wife, mother, homeschooler, former public school teacher, and former preschool ministry director who blogs over at Minivan Ministries. Her goal is to help you make Jesus the driving force in your family. She firmly believes that even the littlest of babes are capable of learning much and doing great things, and that children of all ages are able to serve and love God. Tara and her family of five have called Nashville, TN home for the past two years. Though she enjoys any creative and crafty endeavor, photography, scrapbooking, and quilting are her true passions. Connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Thanks!
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