Each day I have the opportunity for at least a few moments to watch my children play. This is truly a blessing and I realize that some parents do not get the opportunity that I have. Being able to see them in their worlds interacting with each other and even on their own is an absolutely eye opening experience along with incredibly entertaining. It amazes me the things that they can find to play with that are transformed into imaginary objects that set a stage for the story they are telling at the time.
My children are very blessed. They have plenty of people to shower them with plenty of stuff. Each birthday and holiday they are given far more than they need or that we have room for. Every time one of these occasions rolls around we prepare about a week or so before and decide what toys are no longer being used regularly and we donate them so that there is room for the new. My kids have become quite good at getting rid of the stuff that is no longer interesting to them. They know that it will leave way for them to receive something else that is new and exciting!
So the birthdays and holidays come and our house is filled with the endless piles of new and exciting plastic junk that will entertain them for the next couple of days or a week if it’s really awesome and then it will be forgotten about like the hundreds of toys before it. They’ll spend the first hours fighting over who gets to touch the new toys and this will go on for a few days and then without any warning the toy is a thing of the past. All the money spent on these fancy new things and it lasts for such a short while.
What amazes me the most about watching my children play is that there are certain things that can keep their attention endlessly. None of these things are the newest and coolest gadgets either. The attention keepers are probably the more primitive toys if you will. Of course I can give them an ipad or other electronic device and they could spend hours staring blankly at a screen until their brain is a jello that sloshes around in their heads. Yes modern technology will keep their attention…. but they are not playing.
I’m talking about actual playing, something that most kids today experience very little of. I’m talking about grabbing four or five feet of poppy paper and Cassidy has one piece on her ponytail like it is a veil for her wedding. Jacob takes his piece and lays it flat on the floor and does everything he can to get each and every bubble popped. He walks, runs, crawls and rolls until he can’t hear another pop and then he crumples up the wad and pops the ones he missed. Suddenly, bride Cassidy invites Jacob to her wedding and the two of them walk around the first floor with Jacob behind Cassidy holding her veil up from dragging on the floor.
This went on today for at least an hour and could have easily continued if it weren’t for a meddling mom who had to put Jacob down for a nap. “Can I pop just one more?” Jacob cried as I took him upstairs. Who knew poppy paper could be so exciting. The best part is, that it is free. It came in a package I had ordered and the kids have been enjoying it ever since. Perhaps I should market the stuff!
Another great toy for my kids that I can remember enjoying as a child, is a cardboard box. Yup, that’s right! The bigger the box the more fun they will have too. I can remember decorating boxes and making castles and houses. We used them to roll down a hill in. A box would become an amazing fort in a water balloon war. For my kids, they enjoy pushing each other around in them like they are a car. They make great garages for Jacob’s toy cars. They are awesome hiding places and it is incredible when one of them jumps out.
One more favorite of Cassidy and Jacob is dirt. They could take shovels and buckets and dig in a pile of dirt forever. Dirt cakes will be made and soup will be stirred. Rocks will turn into fine china and an entire dinner party will be planned around the main course of dirt. That is the theme when Cassidy is in charge and when it’s Jacob the theme is just dig. Dig as big a hole as you can and dump the dirt in as big a pile as you can make. From head to toe these two will be covered in filth but they will play for hours at a time. If they start to bore, a little sprinkle from the hose on the dirt and they are back in business for at least another hour.
All of the stuff that can be bought and all of the things that can be plugged in, and I enjoy watching my kids play with all of the stuff that no one needs to buy. I feel like kids today don’t experience this kind of play as often as they should. They are so attached to television and apple electronics among others. They need iphones and ipads and ipods and they can’t even look up for a minute. I know my kids, If the tv is on and I ask a question… well the tv goes off before I’ll get an answer. It is so mind numbing that they can’t even look away for a second.
My kids do watch tv and they do play video games from time to time but there is no more precious moments than when I sit on the couch and watch them as they act out some kind of a scene from a fairy tail or movie. Jacob is Buzz Lightyear and Cassidy is any princess that you can think of. They play together with nothing more than a few items that they have lying around. The toys are all stacked to the side and it’s like they don’t even exist. They imagine and play and entertain all in one. It truly is an awesome thing to watch. I hope that those of you with kids have had this opportunity and if you haven’t I encourage you to introduce your kids to a roll of poppy paper, a cardboard box and some dirt. Who knows what adventure it will lead them on!