The other day, while playing in the backyard, Eddie got ahold of the hand-held skimmer net and was having a blast with it, filling it up with leaves and sticks, swishing it through the air with dramatic sound effects, etc. When I explained it was actually a tool, served a purpose, and therefore he could not play with it, there were some dramatic sound effects of another kind.
This exact scenario has happened before and I usually calm him by telling him we can buy him a play net next time we’re at the store. Of course, I forget whenever we’re actually shopping somewhere selling these nets which is why this keeps happening. So this time, I improvised a play net for him. We gathered an old piece of window screen, some duct tape, and a perfect forked branch which we trimmed to form the frame. It took all of a few minutes to throw together, and he had just as much fun with it as he had with the “actual” net.
This makes me so happy! I hate buying more stuff, especially since we already have so many toys. Also, isn’t it better to have less and leave plenty of room for imagination to flourish? Back before Eddie was the proud owner of a real Lightning McQueen toy car, he played with a generic red Hot Wheels car which he called Lightning. He also had Sally (a dark blue sports car, not even a Porsche), Chick (an old green, beat up one, not even new to us), and Cruz (a yellow race car with a spoiler on the back) which he would line up along the couch for races. We have a IKEA-bargain road rug on the floor in their room, but he prefers the couch. Improvisation. Now, of course, he races the “real” Cars movie characters, but I kind of miss the old days.
I just read a great article about an experiment that ended up boosting creativity and “sparking resourcefulness”. This mom boxed up most of her kids’ toys and put them in storage, assuring them they could always get them back out if they missed them. But they didn’t. Actually, they seem to be having even more fun with fewer toys!
This resonates because we live in a small house, and I have to stay on top of accumulation or else we would all go crazy. And the tried-and-true things, the things they really love, like LEGO, DUPLO, Magna-Tiles, train set, Hot Wheels cars, are worth hanging onto, tripping over, picking up again and again. The rest of it? It’s actually easy to say goodbye. (Relatively. There are also times when that “beloved” McDonald’s happy meal toy is apparently the most favorite toy in the whole wide world and cannot be parted with!) Turns out, downsizing the toy situation is good. For me because it’s less to clean up, less overwhelming to the littles trying to decide what to play with, and for them because their ingenuity can blossom.
Anyone else inspired to spring clean?