When was the last time you visited a large toy store? If it’s been a while, you’re in for a real surprise – a shocking overload to the senses actually. Be prepared, you’ll see every conceivable form of plastic configuration the mind can concoct. I caution you – it has a hypnotic effect.
Yesterday I entered the colorful maze looking for one simple item and quickly found myself swallowed up by floor to ceiling boxes of plastic fantastic STUFF.
One of the rows had mechanical toy dogs on one side and talking baby dolls on the other. High pitched barks mingled with unnatural baby cries filled the isle each time an unsuspecting shopper walked by.
There was even an entire isle dedicated to toy horses. Twenty feet long by ten feet high of them. There were stuffed horses, tiny horses, tall horses, fantasy horses – horses with hair, horses with saddles, families of horses and every other piece of paraphernalia to go with them.
The deeper I went the more fascinated I became. Isle after isle told children how to play. Dollhouses, castles, costumes, miniature furniture, games, electronic devices – it was endless. Even the books were automated.
I found myself craving wood – real wood. The kind that smells real, feels real and looks real. I searched for old fashioned building blocks and was horrified to learn they didn’t sell them.
Alarms began to ring in my mind. Non battery-operated alarms.
Children need, we all need – more than TOYS, we’re designed to be creators. Block play is essential for the healthy development of young children. They don’t require an instruction manual with automated parts to enjoy blocks – they just need blocks and space to create.
We’re getting too comfortable in a world that thinks for us – that controls our play – that has plasticized every aspect of our environment.
I had to examine my own insatiable appetite for stuff and stimuli. How much is too much? Do I choose items and devices with predictable outcomes rather than create new ones for myself?
When I surfaced for air, my heart felt sad for the lack of open spaces our children experience. Safety, keeping the educational edge, entertainment and ease – all want to choke out the freedom our children need to become the future for their own generation – thinkers, investors, creators. More than mere mastery – living, breathing, creators.
Do you remember the things that gave you joy as a child? Were they even ‘things’?
I remember playing horse, not playing with toy horses. I spent hours galloping through open grassy fields pretending to be a four legged creature. I remember building forts with twigs, brush and dirt. No one taught me how to build a fort – I built it with imagination and endless unsupervised hours of play.
We need the same as adults. We need real. We need open space, cleared space, real space to regenerate and create. Without it, I worry for the people we will become.
Linked with #GiveMeGrace