Confession time: I have a love/hate relationship with crappy, plastic toys. This was supposed to be a post asking well-meaning relatives, friends and all those who enjoy buying gifts for kiddos to please reconsider when it comes to the poor quality, plastic kind. But after concern that my thoughts may be perceived as ungrateful and selfish, which is not my heart at all, and some self-reflection, I realized I’m probably the chief offender when it comes to purchasing these things for my child!
What are flimsy, plastic gifts? Those toys displayed throughout the grocery store in the direct line of sight of your child. Suddenly it becomes the most amazing toy they’ve ever seen and they must have it. Or is that only my kid? Plastic dart guns, green army men or any toy lining the aisles of stores with “Dollar” in their name. My weakness is Kinder eggs. And Happy Meals. Surely a McDonald’s hamburger isn’t so delicious it causes my child to request a Happy Meal almost every other day? And he doesn’t even touch the chocolate in those Kinder eggs. He only wants the toy.
Here’s where the love/hate comes in.
I’ve seen my son get pretty creative with these toys. Army men strategically placed throughout the house, engaged in intense battles that he spent hours setting up. And I’ve loved witnessing characters from the Kinder egg Marvel Universe join forces with Star Wars Lego heroes to save the earth. Or decorating empty shelf space with trinkets from his collection. I’ve also found these treasures in my purse. I love this part. But I hate that he’ll play with them for an entire day and suddenly forget about them, and they become dust collectors or pain-inflicting weapons when I unknowingly step on one. I realize I’ve created this problem.
Then I’ll get fed up enough to reduce some of his collection and somehow he knows. Like he has secret surveillance on them, even though he hasn’t touched them in weeks. The other day he was so upset because the head fell off this tiny plastic ant we bought the last time we went to the zoo. When I pointed out he hadn’t played with it in months he replied, “I know, but it was my favorite bullet ant.”
We decided several years ago to re-evaluate gifts for our son when the number of toys he’d accumulated was getting out of hand. There were so many toys that he would get overwhelmed. We wanted to focus more on gifts that promoted making memories, like memberships to museums or the zoo. And also limit the number of gifts to something he wants, something he needs, something to wear and something to read. I mentioned this to family members and they were very supportive. But I realize this can be a delicate subject because other family members love your child and want to buy them things and you don’t want to come across as unappreciative. My approach is endeavoring to have balance. And usually, when a birthday or Christmas rolls around, we’ll decide as a family to go through toys he hasn’t played with in a while and give them away while also keeping a manageable toy collection.
I’m also on a mission to restore balance to the plastic toy wasteland in my home, too. No more cheap toys, Camille. Just say no.