Built as Tough as Him?
So, the holidays are on their way out, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief and regret. The spending gorge is over, and we can go back to eating normally.
I have made it family policy that spending is kept to a bare minimum. This is partially because I am not that well off and slightly tightfisted, but largely because I know how those things can get wildly out of hand. My kid is so cute, it’s unbelievable. I feel the urge whenever I walk past a toy display to fill my arms with junk, he’s just that cute. Someone has to draw the line someplace, since he’s only three and I really don’t need him lost in a pile of toys he doesn’t need. I know I need to be careful not to inundate him with material possessions before he’s old enough to understand what’s really important in life, since amusements and commercials have a way of obscuring the real. So, I keep a tight leash on my wallet, and I pick out one or two things I know he will really love, and the rest is all necessities – refilling that paint box, restocking his used up crayon supply, a new six-month replacement toothbrush, buying new undies for the winter chill. Stuff that we parents have to buy, anyway, but I slap a bow on it and call it part of the holidays, since I’m shifty that way. Luckily, he’s three, so unwrapping anything still has a thrill to it.
The major deal is he’s the first and only grandchild on both sides, so I just don’t have to worry about buying him things for holidays – his four grandparents are more than willing to dive into that role, so I say let them have it. So, I cook – from me, he gets food, and something I know he really wants. From them, he gets boxes enough to fulfill his youthful greed. It works out quite well, as long as I can convince them to not go too far overboard (we do live in a small apartment, after all).
It makes me a little sad, come the spring, to see how many of those holiday gifts have not stood up to the rigours of three year old play. There’s the broken plastic truck he tried to skateboard on. There’s the dolly apron that was torn to shreds when he tried to put it on the cat. There, there, and there are the random scattered bits left from his puzzles.
When I was a child, many of my toys were made by my dad from wood. They are still around, having survived decades. These things today, they just aren’t made to last. Buy them cheap, use them for a couple of months, and chuck them away. It’s not the best system, really, for the environment or for the development of a child who is just learning about how life works. Disposable isn’t a lesson I want my son to internalize too firmly.
As I sit now, I see five things – a wooden wheelbarrow, rocking horse, reading chair and wood doll cradle my dad made for my son, and a wooden dump truck made in the 1950s found in a flea market one fortuitous day. The cradle has been “decorated”, and the chair scratched, and the dump truck shows signs of a few emergency rubber cement patches, but they are all still glorious things. Made to last, as tough as a child is. Fixable.
So, farewell holidays, and soon farewell to all of these new plastic things. It’s too bad we’ve lost so much of our appreciation of non-disposable, fixable things. We have seen a lot of improvements in recent decades, and a lot of progress, but when it comes to basic childhood play things, we don’t have better things, we tend to just have more.
All the best for the New Year!
- Anne Holly
Anne Holly is a Canadian writer of romance and erotic-romance, as well as a mother and teacher. She is the author of the novel Strings Attached, which was described by The Romance Reviews as “a classic contemporary romance.” She has been published by Wild Horse Press, Decadent Publishing and Rebel Ink Press, and in 2012 by Pink Petal Books. Anne’s work is characterized by its unusual heroes, sweet/spicy balance, witty dialogue, responsible citizenship, and its positive, optimistic nature. She has found a particular niche in holiday romance. You may visit Anne at her blog or website, or find her on GoodReads, Facebook and Twitter (@anneholly2010). Sign up for her newsletter here. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.