Last week, my wife brought home a large TV box from church. You see, we realized about a year ago that our kids really didn’t like playing with conventional toys all that much. Sissy enjoys playing with Barbies, and Bubba is amassing quite a collection of Legos, but other than that their toys sit largely unused. What our children really enjoy doing is being creative and imaginative. They are constantly drawing pictures on blank paper, they beg us to paint with watercolors, they dress up in costumes and old clothes, they write screenplays (seriously), make cards, pen letters…the list could go on and on. For Christmas this year, they received construction paper, sewing supplies, a weaving kit, a terrarium, a paint-your-own-mug set, and cooking utensils. The few regular toys that they received are now collecting dust with the Zhu Zhu Pets, Spider-man action figures, and Go Diego Go playsets.
Honestly, what could be better than having basic supplies on-hand that allow them to create any toys that they could want to play with? For the most part, these items are cheap, easy to clean-up, and take up very little space. Plus, they have the added benefit of inspiring imagination and creative thinking.
As parents, we need to scale back on buying our kids so much stuff. Simple objects like shoe boxes and empty spools can entertain for hours. A book I once read said that a Millenium Falcon toy will only ever be a Millenium Falcon, but a block can be a spaceship, a house, a car, a person, and anything else a child cares to dream up. While it may seem awesome to buy our kids the lastest and “greatest” gadgets and fads, we are actually doing them a disservice by limiting their opportunities to imagine and create. If we went back to the basics (blocks, craft supplies, basic household castoffs) we might find that our kids could find a lot more to do besides sitting in front of the TV or playing video games.
So, needless to say, when the box entered our home, it was like Christmas all over again. Thus far the box had been used as:
- a television (they get inside and act out little stories)
- a coloring book
- a car
- a fort
- a house
- a monster
I’m sure it will continue to be used until it loses all shape, at which point it will be ripped and shredded into the most fun toy of all: a mess. But until that time comes, it is great fun and a source of pride to watch my children transform such a simple piece of trash into so many wonderful and amazing things.