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Anyone NOT let their child in a toystore or look at toy catalogues?

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

I'm feeling really weird right now. 

 

Here's the background: Dd is soon-to-be 5 and is an only child.  I stay at home and have from the beginning and we homeschool.  Dd doesn't really like other kids that much so she doesn't have a gaggle of friends.  She's had about 1 friend per year her entire life (either we've moved or they've moved, so that somehow it works out to around 1 friend per year) so to be honest we aren't really influenced by whatever the "hot" Christmas toys are--I don't even have a clue what they would be and dd isn't in a preschool situation where kids are talking about them.  We are Waldorf-inspired homeschoolers so we don't even own a TV and dd does not play on the computer.  We shop mostly online for things because we have one car so it's easier to order online with free shipping than it is to go to a store for me, and even if we did shop at brick-and-mortar shops, the LAST place I'd take my child is to a toystore, especially one like Toys R Us.  I am not completely anti-plastic but I am anti- "computers pretending to be toys" that seem to be the rage these days.  We get a few catalogues like Hearthsong/Magic Cabin, Nova Natural, etc., but when they arrive I hide them and look at them without dd around and I also shop online at A Toy Garden, Bella Luna Toys, etc.  Dd's b-day happens to be right before Christmas so I go light on both (basically 1 present for each holiday) but I try and make them nice presents--not expensive but well-made and nice.  I considered it a splurge this year to pay $80 for a wooden stacking rainbow, if that kind of lets you know our budget.. Dd NEVER asks for anything, toy or otherwise.  She is perfectly content to not have a lot of "stuff". 

 

What is making me feel weird is this--everyone (from MIL to dd's one friend's mother) thinks this contentment is somehow abnormal and look at me as if I must have 4 heads when I say that I don't let dd look at the TRU toy catalogue.  I know being Waldorf that I probably protect my child from our culture more than most moms, even ones on MDC (and I'm not implying a judgment in that), but how can I reply without seeming judgmental/weird/socially abnormal when a well-meaning stranger or friend, trying to converse with my very-socially-shy dd, asks her what she wants for Christmas?  She really has no idea.  I don't think she's even thought of it.  She doesn't know what toys are out there and never has, and she has no idea that she can "request" a particular toy for her birthday or Christmas.  MIL and mainstream friend think I'm bizarre for not throwing dd into the consumerist swimming pool, but we are very devout Christians, and for our family, gift-giving is not the centerpiece of our Christmas celebration.  I also don't know how to reply to them in a way that defends myself while at the same time maintains our relationship.

 

Thoughts?

post #2 of 35

I totally get what you said. I really like the not against plastics but computers pretending to be toys. That is exactly where we are. I have plastic toys, but I hate and fortunately so does DS toys that ramble on and don't require you to do anything but walk by....(thinking of a drum that was a gift that DS seemed to like so we opened it returning others but doesn't that goes off ALL the time)

 

 

I don't know for your DD, I would think something along the lines of talking to her about commercializm and how other people chose to live. I'm not sure what to say...but I'd let her know why people are asking and what they are talking about.

 

I also wouldn't worry about bringing her into a store. I don't think she will turn into a green eyed monster over night. I was raised (by grandparents) to value money and thought paying full price rather than yardsale prices was crazy and as a child never really like Toys R Us. (actually..this is still true)

post #3 of 35

I try to avoid it.  I notice that in one particular child especially, discontent sees a massive uptick when he gets his hands on a toy catalog.  Mine have never been into TRU and I really have no motivation to go there.

 

But probably, it's not an issue I'd press with others, or even bring into conversation.  The truth is, contentment *is* abnormal in this culture.  It's a good abnormal IMO, but people may not understand that.

 

That said, if someone offered to take my children to a toy store as a special treat sort of thing, I would be OK with that.  The trip would be part of ongoing conversations before and after it happened, but we have talked about this over the course of several years now and my children recognize that while there's a feeling of happiness and excitement that comes with new things, it's not something we can depend on to be happy people.  'Cause stuff gets old and breaks and gets boring.

post #4 of 35
While I don't think you should have to defend how you choose to raise your kiddo, I too often have the same feeling :). I hate toy stores and I have to say, good for you in keeping her life so much simpler. I would just tell them your views on the season and leave it at that.
post #5 of 35

 

Quote:
 how can I reply without seeming judgmental/weird/socially abnormal when a well-meaning stranger or friend, trying to converse with my very-socially-shy dd, asks her what she wants for Christmas? 

 

My children (6.5yo) are similar to yours even though they go to school and watch TV.  They have been to TRU one time because they rec'd a gift card - it was overwhelming.  They've seen toys at Costco or on a commercial and will sometimes say it looks neat but really do not have a strong desire for any certain toy.  Sometimes I will say 'That is a junky toy.  The commercial makes it look much more fun than it really is.'bag.gif

(Which I shouldn't say because one time they saw it at someone's house and said 'Mom, they have one of those junky toys!'.

 

When people ask them what they want for gifts they sometimes have an idea but often cannot think of anything.  I usually buy them what I want them to have without asking for their input but I know this will change as they get older.  This year they really want skateboards because they used the neighbor's and had fun.  But that is about it.  We do not like to focus too much on gifts and do not have a lot of friends or family who purchase gifts for them.  But, before their birthdays or Christmas, I have them think about something they want so they can respond when people ask.  When they were younger they would just say 'a toy' or 'a celebration' or most often 'a cake'.

 

 

Quote:
  I also don't know how to reply to them in a way that defends myself while at the same time maintains our relationship.

 I do not think you need to defend yourself.  I would often say ' There is nothing they really want or need.' and no one ever had an issue with my response.

post #6 of 35

I don't think it is that unusual.  When we get toy catalogues I let DS have them to look at - basically because he LOVES getting mail.  He'll flip through a few pages and be done and move onto something else.  I don't think he's ever pointed out something he wanted.

 

We go to toy stores together.  Sometimes he needs a few new toys, sometimes we have to buy a gift, whatever.  We wander and look but he's never been the "gimme gimme gimme" kid.  If he gets to pick out something he takes time, looks, and will pick out one thing.

 

We're trying very very hard to not have him be one of those kids who wants everything and is never happy with what he has.  So far I think we're doing ok.

 

Funny thing, this year he made a "Santa List" - idea from the kids at school.  He put 3 things on it.  A new DVD (doesn't care which one), a floor puzzle and a remote control car.  Pretty small/low cost items.  Fairly generic since he doesn't really pay attention enough yet to know which *one* of something he wants.

post #7 of 35

As for a response for you (or your dd) about what she wants for christmas: I think I'd say something like "oh, we're mostly looking forward to making cookies/setting up nativity scene/picking out our tree/whatever 'big event' is important to your family during the season'.  

Or you could even just say 'oh, we like surprises'- which I think is a nice take on the holiday and we often like to just get 'a surprise' here also.  The holiday can still be about giving and getting something special that doesn't have to be anything in particular.

 

post #8 of 35

I kind of wish I hadn't let 4yo son look at toy catalogs this year because it's led to a lot of "I want, I want, I want!"  Never had to worry about that with 7yo son, still don't.  Oh well, it's led to quite a few conversations about how we don't get everything we want along with discussions about how there are children who won't get anything for Christmas.  Which has led to us making a date to go to the toy section at Target this weekend (which I usually avoid with the kids, see the "I want" bit above) to buy toys to donate to the toy drive at oldest son's school.  They're already planning what they're going to pick out, so far it seems like puzzles and games are at the top of the list.

post #9 of 35

I think there are two issues:

 

First is your desire to protect your child from consumerism and the steps that you're taking to do that. Those are totally up to you. We're not as diligent as you are about it, but my kids rarely, if ever, look through catalogs and we don't go shopping 'for fun'. I hate shopping and am incredibly stressed out by malls. It ain't fun for me, so we don't do it. I have found it helpful with my kids, however, to look at toys and help them think about what makes a 'good' toy. We talk about the different uses things could have, what kinds of things they're made of, etc. We also buy used -- ds is really into penguins and has a whole stuffed penguin clan he's building. When he gets money to buy another penguin, he wants to go to Goodwill. I'm not as strict about what comes into the house, but things that stay tend to have good play value.

 

The second issue is what your child should say when people ask her what she wants for her birthday. She does need a response for the social interaction. If she doesn't have specific things, can you coach her to tell people what she's interested in? "What do you want for your birthday?"  really is "What do you like to do, and can I buy you a present that you'd like?" So if she tells people that she's into drawing or cats or music, you can help direct them a bit.

post #10 of 35

Honestly, I'm sure the family and friends mean well.  Most kids happen to love toys, and so toys bring them joy!  Adults like making kids happy, and get something positive out of buying things for said kids.  Toy stores are for kids - so you can see why some people might find it a bit odd that you shelter your kid from them, including paper versions of them.  Other parents also happen to know that you can't keep your kid in a bubble forever, and that there's a good chance that a say, 8 year old who is suddenly aware of all the fun plastic sound making toys may very well develop the major gimmies.  The very thing you are hoping to avoid. 

 

I'm not trying to be rude about your values, but I guess you just need to understand that other people aren't trying to change you or make you feel bad - they just happen to be coming from a different place. 

 

You might eventually find a healthy balance between only wooden waldorfy toys and Disney paraphernalia.  We have a lot of nice, Montessori materials and wouldn't want to have kids who don't value things and are all about consumerism.  Yet, I am okay with buying them toys that they desire from time to time.  You'll cringe, I'm sure, but just today I took my 3-yr old to the toy section at Big Lots so he could look for a play laptop similar to the one he saw in the fisher-price catalog he brought in with him.  So, I allow what you despise - toys that have become computerized... and thank god for toy catalogs b/c they keep him occupied in the car. :)  He actually ended up choosing a caterpillar that he could pull around on a string over anything that made noise - but it was his choice, and I was totally comfortable with that. 

post #11 of 35

I don't take DS to toy stores. I stumbled upon the toy section at Kohl's (had a gift card) and I was shocked, DS & I would both go nuts if we had even one of those toys in our house. We don't get toy catalogues. Actually that's not true, we got this nice one with wooden fairies & mushrooms so I showed DS the mushrooms (he loves mushrooms... eating them, that is!) but I don't think he had any concept of that being something you could buy, he just thought it was a cool picture book!! I'm quite content to avoid getting into the consumerist side of things, and I made a wish list for DS that was quite a struggle for me because he has way more than he needs already & has no requests or anything yet, but family wants to give him gifts. He doesn't watch TV (though we do own one that I watch) so I don't think he's ever seen a toy commercial & neither he nor I know any of the kid's characters that friends/family seem to be constantly referring to. I do bring DS to the thrift store & sometimes we buy a toy, but he's never asked for one & doesn't seem to care either way if we get one (it's my own obession with buying them lol, I have to get that under control before DS catches on!) Anyway, I don't think there's anything wrong with what you're doing & share many of your values & your desire to shelter my kid from our culture. However I also want DS to be able to live & function in our society! I would do like the pp's suggested above & give your DD some kind of appropriate response, whether it's, "Well I could always use a few new books & craft supplies" or "A membership to XYZ" or simply, "There's nothing I really need but I will enjoy whatever I get!" I would use the last response if these are people just making conversation & something like the first 2 responses for people that will actually buy her a gift. She could also request clothes (unless you already have clothing for her in the next 3 sizes up like I tend to do lol!)

 

Oh yes & DS is getting a homemade pillow pet, homemade felt food, and a book for Christmas, plus some nice wooden animals in his stocking. I spent a total of $13. My aunt thought I was nuts. Last year we spent nothing & just gave him a few freecycled finds. I think our friends & family think we're poor or something because we spend so little money on things (we're by no means rich but I guess we *could* spend $50 on some random toy if we desired to -- we just don't).

post #12 of 35
There are a million and one things you can want in this world that aren't toys. Books for starters. Experiences. Time with the relatives. Wishlists don't have to be about things, and I think it is a good thing to teach children early to consider special experiences as the gifts that they are. I don't think it is necessarily strange that you are sheltering your DD so much from plastic noise toys, but she should understand the concepts of gift giving and receiving and understand that she has the right to want things. In your post, it sounds like she doesn't want anything, which I think is is a little bit sad. Wanting things in life is not just a consumerist hobby, it is what keeps our zest for life. She should be wanting to learn, wanting to experience, wanting to explore. And there are all kinds of things that relatives and friends could gift her towards those pursuits - non material things, like memberships to the zoo, subscriptions to NatGeoKids, a gift of time at a state park.
post #13 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife View Post

Honestly, I'm sure the family and friends mean well.  Most kids happen to love toys, and so toys bring them joy!  Adults like making kids happy, and get something positive out of buying things for said kids.  Toy stores are for kids - so you can see why some people might find it a bit odd that you shelter your kid from them, including paper versions of them.  Other parents also happen to know that you can't keep your kid in a bubble forever, and that there's a good chance that a say, 8 year old who is suddenly aware of all the fun plastic sound making toys may very well develop the major gimmies.  The very thing you are hoping to avoid. 

 

I'm not trying to be rude about your values, but I guess you just need to understand that other people aren't trying to change you or make you feel bad - they just happen to be coming from a different place. 

 

You might eventually find a healthy balance between only wooden waldorfy toys and Disney paraphernalia.  We have a lot of nice, Montessori materials and wouldn't want to have kids who don't value things and are all about consumerism.  Yet, I am okay with buying them toys that they desire from time to time.  You'll cringe, I'm sure, but just today I took my 3-yr old to the toy section at Big Lots so he could look for a play laptop similar to the one he saw in the fisher-price catalog he brought in with him.  So, I allow what you despise - toys that have become computerized... and thank god for toy catalogs b/c they keep him occupied in the car. :)  He actually ended up choosing a caterpillar that he could pull around on a string over anything that made noise - but it was his choice, and I was totally comfortable with that. 



Oh, I know they mean well, which is why I want to have a response that doesn't come off to be "holier than thou" which tends to happen in Waldorf.  I've been thinking that part of the difficulty is that we're really living in two separate cultures with different value systems.  They truly cannot comprehend why we don't shop at TRU, especially since my parents work there for a part-time, post-retirement job.  I try to explain that we don't shop at any toystores but buy online because we can get better selection, support small businesses, etc., but they seem weirded out by that.  I'm not preachy or judgmental (or at least I don't think so) so maybe I should just try and be content with letting them think I'm some sort of bubble-wrap mama, which I'm really not.  I do believe in protecting young children but allowing them more openness to the world once they're older and can process it more fully.  It is a Waldorf thing, but I don't really know how to easily and quickly explain that to people so that they have a better understanding.  Or maybe I should just let it go ... I dunno.  I think what is really getting to me is how so many people seem to find it just strangely bizarre that my child is very non-consumeristic and they fault me for that. 

 

 

Thanks, everyone, for the responses to the "what should I say" part of my question.  Lots of good things to chew over and hopefully regurgitate at the proper time. :)

post #14 of 35

Interesting question!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LuxPerpetua View Post
 how can I reply without seeming judgmental/weird/socially abnormal when a well-meaning stranger or friend, trying to converse with my very-socially-shy dd, asks her what she wants for Christmas? 


This one is super easy for me, because we're not Christian. So my answer: "We don't celebrate Christmas." This got me thinking, could you just say something like, "We don't celebrate with gift-giving" or something like that?

 

FWIW, my parents definitely kept me out of the "consumerist swimming pool" as a kid (I am attempting to do the same) but I was allowed to look through toy catalogs to my heart's content. I loved them and used them as sort of "wordless books" - especially playmobil ones. In my recollection it's an imaginative activity that made me think about making toys and ideas for play. In my case, my parents simply did not have the means to buy any of those catalog toys, and I knew it, so it was never about the thought of actually getting the toys - more like thinking about toys. I was always constructing dollhouses, rainforests, cities...

post #15 of 35

We have the same problem in our family (although I am not waldorffy, just a conservative spender).  I do not give my son toy catalogs.  For Christmas we usually do one "big gift" (i.e. train tracks) not necessarily expensive and often used.  Then a couple of small gifts (new crayons/paper/etc).  For his birthday, both my DH and I take him out (just the 3 of us) for lunchand take him to a toy store to pick out his one gift.  Usually $20.  I tend to pick smaller Toy stores to avoid being overwhelmed.  My ILs like to spend a lot of money for holidays and birthdays, so we do make lists.  However, he always has clothing, school & craft supplies, gift cards, and $$ towards museum & zoo memberships on his lists.  He opens all the gifts, then when he goes to sleep I go through the toys & gifts.  If they are inappropriate I return or donate them.  I will also hold toys & supplies and give them throughout the year.

post #16 of 35

well, we don't celebrate christmas, and I don't really LIKE computerized plastic junky toys, but for the most part if it something that I think will hold up well and has lots of creative play value, I will defer to what ds wants. It's his toy, after all. Transformers and garbage trucks bore me to tears but they are crucial to his world so I go with the flow (motsly from goodwill though). He has been to tru a few times and honestly it was overwhelming. I would rather not take him there. We do go to thrift stores and he often comes home with some small car or trinket, but the toy sections there tend to be just a few aisles, and for us it is more of a playtime than a shopping experience. He enjoys the toys while I look around and then we clean up and go home.

 

As far as catalogs go, I love to buy toys, it is my weakness, but i can't afford it, so when ds found a catalog from walmart the other day, we just sat and looked at ti together, not in a "poor-us-we-can't-afford-it" way but just like, "oh, that's ncie, that'd be cool to have." We enjoyed talking about the different toys and it gave me an idea of what things to keep an eye out for on craigslist or at yard sales.

 

I actually think that being able to do that is a good thing because it means he will learn to see things, acknowledge that he might like to have them, and then move on without being crushed or miserable about it. It was funny though because our neighbor came over and he said to her, "look, I have a nice book about things we can't afford!"

post #17 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by LuxPerpetua View Post

It is a Waldorf thing, but I don't really know how to easily and quickly explain that to people so that they have a better understanding.


Treading delicately here because I don't fully understand Waldorf & certainly don't want to offend... but if you happen to mention something like this when trying to explain yourself, that may come off the wrong way. I understand that there are a lot of people here that are very much into Waldorf (or Montessori etc.) but outsiders may have a different image of what this is, like "snobby private schools" or "very expensive toys" etc. (which I get is a misunderstanding), so saying, "It's a Waldorf thing," probably won't do much to clarify your position. Not to mention that people (including myself) can share most of your sentiments on this issue even though we're not Waldorf. So I would focus on how this is YOUR personal choice. I really like the pp's suggestion of something along the lines of, "We don't celebrate with gift-giving" or you could forego the effort to really explain yourself & just stick to something like, "We don't have a lot of space & she already has a bunch of toys so we're focusing on meaningful intangible gifts"...


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by waiting2bemommy View Post

I actually think that being able to do that is a good thing because it means he will learn to see things, acknowledge that he might like to have them, and then move on without being crushed or miserable about it.


This is a nice way to look at it actually, never thought about it from that perspective!

post #18 of 35

our dd is pretty young but we try to avoid and don't intend to allow.  for us, though, it's more of issues with not just materialism but gender stereotyping of the toys.  the way 'girls' and 'boys' are assigned particular objects to play with just drives me over-the-top bonkers so it's just as much for my sanity and to protect my family from having to listen to me rave as anything else.

i don't even attempt to explain any of it to people for whom it's not an understood and quick explaination.  i just nod and smile.  if it makes them look at you funny when you explain, they won't understand it anyway.. save your breath ;)

post #19 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

 

The second issue is what your child should say when people ask her what she wants for her birthday. She does need a response for the social interaction. If she doesn't have specific things, can you coach her to tell people what she's interested in? "What do you want for your birthday?"  really is "What do you like to do, and can I buy you a present that you'd like?" So if she tells people that she's into drawing or cats or music, you can help direct them a bit.



Quote:

Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife View Post

Other parents also happen to know that you can't keep your kid in a bubble forever, and that there's a good chance that a say, 8 year old who is suddenly aware of all the fun plastic sound making toys may very well develop the major gimmies. 

 

 

I agree with the quotes above - it sounds like something you could possibly also address with your dd. You're asking how you should reply; but as she gets older she is going to need a response, too. My kids are in school, and participate in a lot of community activities, see tons of plastic toys at friend's houses (and some at ours, too,lol). I'm doing my best to give them the tools and values to deal with the consumeristic society that we live in - to determine what makes a quality toy, teach that commercials are trying to entice you to buy something and that they are not always accurate/truthful, that we have limited resources, that toys/things are not the most important aspect of life, etc. IMO, I would concentrate on giving your dd a response - maybe, like Lynn said, coach her on a few possible responses.

 



 

post #20 of 35

We're waldorfy too and I totally get where you're coming from. I would NEVER take my kids into TRU, just because I find it totally overwhelming myself the few times I've been. However my 3 year old (no TV or catalogues) has definitely got the idea that there are things out there in the big world that he could maybe have. We do go into small toy stores (to buy gifts for others usually) and he also goes to other kids houses. He actually asked Santa at the mall for a James train and he asked Grandma for a zuzu pet. Both things he's seen at others houses. Luckily our friends and family have similar values so I don't run into the problem you talk about too much. What I do say, if people offer me things I don't want (leapfrog type things usually) is 'oh, you know, we're so overwhelmed with stuff and we don't have much space so I'm trying to cut down on the toys'. If it was someone who wanted to give us something badly I would probably ask for books, crafts or experiences.

 

TO answer your original question. I think at nearly 5 it's fine to answer for a shy child and model how you would like her to answer. How about 'DD isn't sure what she wants but I know she's really into baking/ crafts/ reading right now'. good luck

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