As I have commented before, I don't like putting links on the blog as they won't be functional on the print out for Linus's archives, but the 2 NPR links above are a great read for anyone with children, or anyone who intends on having children. More support for the "less is more," "simplistic" view on life - specifically, games and toys. As one of the NPR pieces highlights, there has been a shift in children's play from "activity" to "objects.
I remember waiting for bus #13 down at a neighbor's driveway on Lackey Street, and spending what seemed like hours playing all sorts of crazy games (for my brother and RI, wasn't one we created called "Zing?") Additionally, I remember playing "house" by myself with COLORED PENCILS. Yes. Red "married" green, but if I ran out of green, then I would pair a red with brown. They were paired based on height (how far they had been sharpened down), and I would sharpen other colors so far down, that they would be shorter and could serve as "children." Okay, so maybe this was also the start of my OCD tendencies, but you have to laugh. Eventually I moved on to my brother's GI Joe and Star Wars figures to play family, and the red headed, bearded "Survivor" GI Joe (his white shirt, bursting with muscles, read "Survivor") courted the Princess Leia who wore the red outfit--not the snow land princess Leia because her face paint was rubbing off. She was the ugly twin sister who tried to steal Survivor away from her prettier twin. I could only find a picture of the ugly Leia to give you a visual.
I could start a new blog page dedicated to the kind of imaginative play that went on in my household. Walk into my brother's room back in the 80s, and you would find his room / "studio" filled with leftover cardboard transformed into "crypts," "pyramids," and miniature replicas of castles. In the kitchen, plastic sandwich bags and pudding turned into "space pudding," and old, chewed up medicine droppers transformed into a tool for a "futuristic" way to drink lemonade. Unfortunately, my idea of futuristic drinking never caught on...maybe it was the bite marks. Popples used as pregnancy bellies with jelly bracelets as make-shift braces (okay, dangerous practice with the bracelets, and why did I think I should be pregnant AND have braces?!); hours in the basement by myself choreographing dances to Bette Midler's "Miss Otis Regrets;" summer nights playing Spud in the front lawn (don't forget those obligatory games of "wrestling" N made me play, too); translating old favorite books into plays in front of my mirror (or Ms Mallhoit's 2nd grade class); random days that N and I would dress up like clowns for no reason; the fake hockey team my brothers and I were part of (painted shirts included--but my membership came at the price of finding out there was no Santa); not only reading books with my family under the tree each afternoon, but also using our magazine file of cut up magazine pictures my mom collected and organized, cornmeal and glue to write our own books; silly days when you would come down for breakfast and have the table set up like a birthday party, or you would drink your OJ out of bud vases; eating dinner out of Tonka trucks; radio shows the 3 siblings taped on the 7 hour drive to PA. Oh, I could go on for pages! (The blog might also serve as great documentation as to why my siblings and I are slightly eccentric!) You thought Mr. Rogers had a huge land of "make-believe," my household was always a land of "make-believe." (Authors note: I realize that this all comes across as though I may feel that my childhood was perfect. It certainly wasn't. Especially when I would find my Paddington bear hanging from my closet door with an evil note strung around his neck, or discover that my Barbie's head was not only shaved, but also had a huge lightening strike penned in to the side (This particular Barbie would change roles from being a punk rocker, to having cancer. Sad but true.) In truth, I bet my childhood was a lot like many other kids' childhoods who grew up in the 1980s. I just realize that so much of what we did has now been replaced by toys and items that already have a set of rules, and don't require as much executive function. It has been clearly illustrated in my 15 years of sitting).
I find it overwhelming, and slightly discouraging to see all of the toys and "things" that manufacturers and advertisers try to shove down your throat when you have a baby. You NEED vibrating, flashing lights on all baby products. You NEED diaper wipe warmers. You NEED TVs in the back of your car to entertain your kids (God forbid you talk with/to them). You NEED to have your home hemorrhage with toys that have the rules programmed into a computer chip. I realize I am soap boxing, and apologize if it is offensive to anyone (blame it on the hormones). Surely, our home will have plenty of toys, and I imagine some will have lights and require batteries...but we would like to keep the volume of toys in general at a manageable level. What about wooden blocks? Bristle blocks? Simple pull toys? Well made, hand crafted non-toxic toys? I am aware that there needs to be some sort of balance so Linus doesn't go to school just to be ostracized for not knowing what a Wii is, or how to boot up a computer. (He may already have a hard enough time if he inherits the worst of our gene pool: bad, crooked teeth; poor eyesight; gangly frame; huge chin; and receeding hair line.) It won't be easy to find a happy medium, but Eric and I are willing to take the time to try!
Something else that has stuck with me over the years. In my mom's 20+ years of experience as a Preschool Director, she has noticed that children are being held less and less often. You can purchase a "contraption" to hold your baby from the time he/she wakes up, until the time he/she goes to sleep (carriers, bouncers, chairs, saucers, swings, "pods," etc). With an increase in supplemental items for holding babies, they are not developing the neck and back strength as early and as well as they have in the past. Of course, walking up 3 flights of concrete steps to our condo is not something I intend on doing with Linus just in my arms, but I (and Eric) hope to make a conscious effort to hold Linus, unassisted, as much as we can.
We are not perfect, and our goal is not to have a perfect life or child...but with so many decisions for the future, I hope we can equip ourselves with enough information to make mindful and healthy decisions.
I now step down. Phew! Perhaps I'll go organize some colored pencils or something...
Gratitudes: -I am thankful that my best friend RI has overcome one immense hurdle: the master's thesis! CONGRATS!
NOAH, Isaac, Braxton, Hicks, Evan, Owen, Abe, Josef, Dylan, Griffin, Jens, Jan, Nevin, Emil, Milo, Luke, Lucas, Simon