Reflecting on Non-Necessities: Toys

I had another post ready, but a graphic on another site, as well as the ensuing chat on Twitter today (#pschat), grabbed my attention. If only because it’s a general testament to what American parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends feel we should “gift” to children. Among some of the interesting information researched and shared:

  • Despite the fact that the U.S. has less than the 4% of the world’s population, we purchased more than 40% of the manufactured toys
  • During the 2009-10 recession supermarket spending dropped .5% while toy sales grew 2%.

Although I miss when my kids were younger, I don’t miss the crap and clutter—all of the parts and pieces of their toys, the extra accessories we felt compelled to purchase because they made the play experience that much more meaningful—that surrounded them and filled up every nook and cranny of our home. Every time we purged our basement and the kids’ rooms of toys, more entered our humble abode, lovingly given to our kids by others and us. With four kids, it was kinda crazy.

At this point the toys are gone, long forgotten for the most part. The kids focus on sports, nature, their pets, social-interaction with peers, board games and cards with us and each other, and an occasional game of hoops in the driveway. I however have a few keen memoires of their toys, one type in particular.

J loved them—Polly Pockets™—a marvel for young ones’ finger dexterity. We quickly accumulated hordes of the cute, malleable pea-and-less-sized parts. I remember my daughter’s frustration of not being able to stretch the darned dresses over the dolls’ torsos and shoes over their little feet. Sometimes their wiglets fell off. My patience was tested too—between assisting her as she dressed the three-inch dolls in rubber and cleaning out what I had sucked up with the vacuum.

The highlight and end of Polly Pockets™ in our home was an emergency run when A was two-years-old. Unknown to me, it seems someone visiting left the box of teeny-tiny stuff open. My child, still fascinated with putting things in her orifices, stuck a pair of Polly Pockets™ pink, mirrored-wraparound sunglasses up her sweet little nose. A couldn’t get the offending accessory out. Blowing her nose only produced an impressive amount of boogers.

The pediatric ER docs sprayed a good dose of phenylephrine up her nose to shrink the swelling. My daughter sneezed them out just before the docs were going to have a go with the alligator forceps. The docs reported that the sunglasses were in fact the largest obstruction they had seen in a wee one’s nose (a proud “mom moment” for me, let me tell you). The Polly Pockets™ became “history” shortly after we arrived home.

Go check out the infographic that Jason, Frugal Dad, created. I continue to reflect, with amazement, on the many toys that once graced our home. Countless dollars spent by us and others, and I’m glad that we gradually became adept at reducing “need to have” and “I want.” Still, I wish we had done it far earlier. Many were recycled—to other children, to orphanages and school children in other countries, to Goodwill and the Salvation Army. But still, I think as a parent I could have, should have done better…



Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Epiphiany, The International Mom

4 responses to “Reflecting on Non-Necessities: Toys

  1. Ha ha ha…. yes, I can related. I remember one time when I was a working Mom I received a call from preschool that I needed to come and get my 2 year old son because he had stuffed a tiny piece of pear up his nose. I guess he just wanted to see if it would fit. I had to take him to the doctor who had to extract it with some sort of a metal stick-looking device (probably designed just for such a purpose!)
    Ahh… so nice to be on the other side of that time in parenting!
    Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. Spot on. I started to leave a much longer response to this, but “stuff” is a hard topic for me. Our #1-I-love-stuff-15-year-old son died of leukemia, leaving me with a mountain of thoughts on “stuff” that seem too big to share in a comment. My constant prayer to the next generation of parents: teach your children “important stuff” and leave 9/10th of the junk at the toy store.

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