people giving plastic toys thinking they're doing your child a favor? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 23 Old 12-15-2010, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I had a discussion with my sister last night. She asked what the kids want for Christmas (not that she ever goes by the suggestions anyway). I told her whatever she thinks the kids will like but we would only like wood, fabric, wax, etc. I even said if she would like to grab one of the fallen branches in her backyard, cut in slices with her big saw, and sand the blocks down it would be a wonderful gift for all four kids. She thought that was nuts - I was just trying to save her some shopping and money since they're strapped right now. I also said books are great and always read many, many times. I said she could use her sewing skills, she really is very good, to make something. Play food, costumes, a doll sling or hammock. It would save her lots of money and she has the time. 

 

Then she went into how she's the only one who gives the kids 'real' gifts and 'normal' gifts. She doesn't want the kids to be 'freaks who've never played with normal toys'. She said she feels she is doing the kids a great favor by giving them mainstream plastic toys. Last year she asked if my daughter likes hanna montana. I said she doesn't know who that is. She asked is my daughter likes barbie. I said she used to have one but never played with it and chose to donate it. So what did she get my daughter? You guessed it - a hanna montana barbie doll. She was even so kind as to take it out of the package 'because you'll just return it'. 

 

Do you feel like others give your child 'normal' toys because that's what they think is best for them?

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#2 of 23 Old 12-15-2010, 08:13 AM
 
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I do. I think DH's family believes that we are stifling our child because we are not giving him "everything." The things I suggest sound so boring to them. I usually get eye rolls, because they don't understand how he's going to be playing with these things. He's only 15 months, too, so they don't even know the half of it yet wink1.gif

 

They definitely want him to be "normal" and are very confused about what I am doing. DH's family is pretty small, so he only has one cousin who is 9. They've seen him get video games since he was 5 and always has the newest, most popular toys. They want to give that "love" to my son, since that's what they think is normal. His cousin has some serious issues now, since he has been so spoiled and never goes outside. Not what I want. I don't think they'll ever get it though. It's not a bad thing to go against the norm.

 

Your sister sounds like quite the character. Did your daughter get excited when she saw the doll? I was out shopping with the 3 year old I used to nanny and she saw something Hannah Montanah. She knew who it was right away. I was so confused, because I know she'd never watched it before and don't really know where she would have been exposed to it. She was transfixed on it, though! 

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#3 of 23 Old 12-15-2010, 09:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughter had no clue, none. She's never watched hanna montana movies (or is it a show?). Her cousins, my sister's daughters, tried to get her to play with it and she showed no interest. That's what happens with a lot of tv show toys. Even though they have seen dora and other shows they still have no interest in the toys. The one exception is toy story movie toys. Our son gets into those but we keep them to a minimum because all he does with them is recreate the scenes from the movie and ask to watch the movie more and more. 

 

My family sounds like yours in that they think the toys we ask for are boring. They also think they're too expensive. Why pay $20 for a wooden animal when you can get a day after thanksgiving sale made in china piece of plastic junk with a tv character on it for that? Why? Because they will play with the wooden animal for years and it can be passed down, they'll discard the plastic junky toy in a few minutes. 

 

They also are annoyed that 'everything has to be wooden' or 'everything is too hard to find or only online'. I try to give toy store suggestions. Things like a little tykes (made is usa) plastic and metal xylophone - it's great toy and it's already seen nearly six years of use. I also ask for homemade fabric or knitted things from the crafty people in our lives and wooden things, even something simple like blocks, from people we know who do woodworking. 

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#4 of 23 Old 12-15-2010, 10:18 AM
 
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I think its all about balance.  We are succombing to the WII this christmas (I was sooo hesitant about this one) and they do have the leapster, but those are the ONLY toys that they have that require batteries.  They do have plastic toys which we purchased before we knew better, and we do purchase plastic toys for the beach/pool and tub, but again, we avoid purchasing these as a general rule.

 

I think its also about making it easier for gift givers.  We use an amazon wish list online, where you can use the "universal" feature to add ANY item from any online location to your list, whether or not its sold on amazon.  It simply makes the entire process easier, takes the "huh" out of gift givers questions, and also lets them read the reviews and see the kids in the pics playing with the items...seems to make any item more understandable to give as a gift.  DH's family almost entirely orders off of their wishlist...not so sure about my family.  Guess we'll know the answer to that next week!


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#5 of 23 Old 12-15-2010, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We use the wish list too. It's worked out great but some family members don't like to shop online, think the toys we suggest are not what they want to give, or are doing it to spite me. We even put things like museum memberships on there. We have a couple family members who just like to give our kids toys they KNOW we will find awful and obnoxious, a plastic singing elmo comes to mind, just to prove their point that they can buy whatever they want and give it to the kids. They can, I don't mind if they give whatever they want to the kids but I simply try to point them in the direction of toys that will be used and cherished rather than tossed aside by the end of january. BTW, that elmo had a lead paint recall. I spread the news of this and it's reduced the made in china toys. It was like they finally realized that there was a good reason I asked for toys not made in china. 

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#6 of 23 Old 12-15-2010, 11:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elus0814 View Post

We use the wish list too. It's worked out great but some family members don't like to shop online, think the toys we suggest are not what they want to give, or are doing it to spite me. We even put things like museum memberships on there. We have a couple family members who just like to give our kids toys they KNOW we will find awful and obnoxious, a plastic singing elmo comes to mind, just to prove their point that they can buy whatever they want and give it to the kids. They can, I don't mind if they give whatever they want to the kids but I simply try to point them in the direction of toys that will be used and cherished rather than tossed aside by the end of january. BTW, that elmo had a lead paint recall. I spread the news of this and it's reduced the made in china toys. It was like they finally realized that there was a good reason I asked for toys not made in china. 


I only wish we all had that unfortuante experience to educate our familial gift givers :)

 

I also added a few items on their wish list that were experiential....annual passes to legoland (which I *think* my mother purchased for them).  Tickets to the hot air balloon ride in Orlando.  Tickets to the giraffe ranch, which would allow them to pet/feed a real giraffe....boy, those would be amazing opportunies for them and the gift giver could see pictures of these visits, which I think would make the gift giver even more pleased that they gave the gift.

 

I also ensure that I write in the "notes" section why I added this and why I think they would love it.  For example, DS is receiving the maxim venture pirate ship for christmas from santa (simply an amazing pirate ship that I even fell in love with when I saw it).  I added the maxim pelican pier to his wish list (couldnt justify spending even more money on pirates at one time)....and i made it clear that it "goes" with something that they will love and play with daily.  I added the holzkram barn with a link to the site in germany where it can be purchased (cheaper than buying it in the US, even with the S&H costs!), and clearly indicated that it will go with the holzkram house that DD is receiving for her birthday.  I think people are more understanding of how the toy will be used then....sometimes it takes more effort to educate them, but its typically worth it.  Added a few ryan's room furniture items on there for more strapped gift givers and we are set.

 

Sure, there are people that will always buy crap.  Last year, DH's sister bought DS the "go diego go rescue pack" which is a hard plastic backpack with a few hard plastic toys inside.  I looked at it and wondered WTH????  I kept it.  It sat in the playroom.  They played with it for about 5 minutes about 10 times throughout the last year.  I just sold it on ebay :)


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#7 of 23 Old 12-15-2010, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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hahahahahaha!

 

My son was given a 'go diego go fan boat' it was three colors of hard plastic, some hard plastic accessories, and a diego that the paint came off of the first, and only, time it was played with. It was one of their gifts from their bachelor uncle. He always picks out something interesting. Why do some gift givers think all kids ever want to play with are tv characters?

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#8 of 23 Old 12-15-2010, 01:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by elus0814 View Post

hahahahahaha!

 

My son was given a 'go diego go fan boat' it was three colors of hard plastic, some hard plastic accessories, and a diego that the paint came off of the first, and only, time it was played with. It was one of their gifts from their bachelor uncle. He always picks out something interesting. Why do some gift givers think all kids ever want to play with are tv characters?



I think some children doing really idenify with characters. I've seen plenty of posts here or the Holiday Helper where people said there children wanted "X character things" If they watch a lot of tv or other media then that is their primary influence rather than books or stories or daily activities or modeling the life the see around them. It is reinforced by shopping, well, pretty much everywhere. Every chain store is plastered all over with characters. I understand why children choose it. I can't understand why parents choose it. My kids don't advertise for anyone.

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#9 of 23 Old 12-15-2010, 04:28 PM
 
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My kids don't advertise for anyone.


:)


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#10 of 23 Old 12-16-2010, 11:04 AM
 
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One of my pet peeves is people who "don't like to shop online."  HELLO, it is 2010, people!  You do not even have to leave your house to shop, how AWESOME.  I ordered almost all of the girls' gifts this year & that was the best gift I gave myself!

 

I got to watch as much tv as I wanted as a kid & that def makes you want the toys b/c you love the characters so much.  I see this in dd1 b/c she loves the Sesame Street characters & she has a whole plush collection.  I do keep the thought in mind that I don't want her to advertise for anyone, but in her mind, carrying Zoe around is b/c she loves Zoe, not b/c she is trying to sell more Zoe dolls.  And she does play w/ them more than recreating scenes, so I am okay w/ it.  Those are her only character dolls, though (about a million of them :p )  She also loves the show "Kipper" more than any show & I would buy her a Kipper doll if they made one b/c I know she would flip out and adore it.  That electronic talking Elmo?  Yeah, she got that from aunt and uncle for her her birthday & it's up in the attic.  She is way too young for it & it is annoying.  We will try it again when she is three.

 

I am a big fan of, when I ask you what you want, I will go out and get that item.  That is what you told me you will like, you can have it.  Thankfully, most of our family feels the same way.  They do also know that dd1 only watches SS and Kipper, so she wouldn't know who most tv people are anyway.  I do make sure to tell gift givers how much dd1 is playing w/ the stuff they got her & how much we use and love it.  I know this makes them feel happy & it reinforces that we really do use the stuff!


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#11 of 23 Old 12-16-2010, 11:59 AM
 
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ROTFLMAO.gifI think this is my IL's problem. They don't "do the internet." Not because of values or they're not capable, but just because they're too lazy to learn. They're only 50, so it's not out of the realm. They're so stubborn. I wish I could make online wish lists for them or something. Not shopping online is so limiting. Plus there are some amazing deals online! Another plus!

 

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Originally Posted by dogretro View Post

One of my pet peeves is people who "don't like to shop online."  HELLO, it is 2010, people!  You do not even have to leave your house to shop, how AWESOME.  

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#12 of 23 Old 12-17-2010, 09:38 PM
 
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I know this can be such an agonizing aspect of parenting. It used to drive me nuts because I felt our wishes were not respected, our voices not heard. These days, I just deal. I try to accept things that are given as gifts from loved ones because I know my family members really do mean well. They may not make an effort to get the effect we are going for in our home, but whatever. For instance, for DS who is 1, for his bday, he was given a really obnoxious alphabet ride on train. The magical toy that does 1000 different things, with 100 different sounds, 100 different little gadgets, and the most pleasant tunes with the push of every button. Yeah,  loved it. But my MIL, who I really adore, and I know really is in love with her grandkids, gave it to him. As much I despise this kind of thing, seeing it makes me think of her and her good intentions. DH and I have had plenty of laughs about the thing. No, I don't think it's doing my son any real favor, but he does love sitting on it, and he tries to use it as a skateboard, which is pretty funny. Most of the plastic junk goes to the donate pile, but some things I just cannot get rid of. I rationalize that we only buy responsibly, and request things for outdoor use because 80% of our playing is outside. 

Family members always praise how amazingly creative the kids are, how smart, how unique- yet I don't understand why they would still expect them to fit into the mainstream box. eyesroll.gif It also bothers me that no one in my family cares about not buying stuff made in China. But again, I try to just remain peaceful and mostly gracious about the whole process.

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#13 of 23 Old 12-20-2010, 03:47 AM
 
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For our family, we chose to open only a few of the gifts on the spot.  The rest came home and were packed away for use later (or not at all).  The items that were opened were forgotten rather quickly and it was back to the old favorites within 24 hours.  Gifts often come with agendas from the givers, unfortunately.  The plastic, battery-operated items we got last year broke within weeks and I was unable to find replacements.  Drat.  I agree, my children won't be advertisements, either. 


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#14 of 23 Old 12-23-2010, 09:02 AM
 
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I'm having a similar dilemma.  Last night my sil and her dh drove about 2 hrs round-trip to drop off a toy that she won on an online auction.  I despise this hideous thing.  It's huge, plastic, lights/sounds, etc...  to me, it represents commercialism and over-consumption in all its loud, ugly, plastic glory.  I know their hearts are in the right place -- she went out of her way to track this monstrosity down after our ds played with one at her house (dh told her it was "too pricey" and that's why we weren't getting it for ds; why he didn't just explain I don't want it in our home I have no idea, but I digress).  Anyway, I was literally nauseous wrapping this thing up for xmas last night.  I finally pried it open, chucked the batteries in the battery recycling bin and took a deep breath.  Yeah, my kid will probably be thrilled with it xmas morning -- he's 6 -- but I know for a fact he'll abandon it within a week or so.  And then it can magically make its way to a charity in the Spring when we move. 

 

They're very good, loving people; they just will never "get" that we're doing it differently with our own kids.  Variety is the spice, no?

 


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#15 of 23 Old 12-23-2010, 12:50 PM
 
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Family members always praise how amazingly creative the kids are, how smart, how unique- yet I don't understand why they would still expect them to fit into the mainstream box. eyesroll.gif It also bothers me that no one in my family cares about not buying stuff made in China. But again, I try to just remain peaceful and mostly gracious about the whole process.

Oh, this drive's me crazy too. Listening to my family complain about the economy, NAFTA, the government, etc. etc. and then consuming mass quantities of junk at the same time drives me crazy. On the plus side, my sister is okay if I poke around and try and find ethically made things for her kids. i.e. they wanted these (junky) baby items from Pottery Barn. MIC and not even cheap. But they were thrilled the similar things I found on etsy. She just won't make the same effort.
 

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#16 of 23 Old 12-24-2010, 06:02 AM
 
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I gave my MIL a bunch of ideas for the girls.  A puzzle for the baby, books, coloring books and headbands for dd1.  We got the package the other day and I peeked at everything.  For the baby, a hard plastic crawling, dancing, talking, battery operated baby doll.  For dd1, a bunch of hideous tacky things: a really tacky plastic crown, a headband decorated with bright fluffy tinsel, a big, pink polyester pillow pal thing, a cheapy junky, pink handbag.   All really cheapy, junky quality.

 

We have so little space, everything is always lying around, or stashed in annoying places in our apartment.  It's annoying enough to have good quality wooden or Waldorfy things in my face all the time, but this junk will very soon end up being donated.

 

What makes it worse it that MIL has never even met the baby who is now 10 months old.  She visited dd1 when she was 5 weeks old, and she's now 3.5.  We visited her when she was 16 months, and that's all they ever have seen her.  It's not money, becauase they go on 2 vacations a year. She lives like a 9 hour drive away. So I can't even say I think she chooses the gifts with love or loves or cares about them. 

 

I would sooo rather one Ostheimer figure than a pile of plastic junk!  Or maybe even if it was better quality and not so junky and cheapy.


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#17 of 23 Old 12-24-2010, 07:07 AM
 
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Ugh- let me tell you, this happens with little boys, too. My son is 11 months old, and his grandparents (on the dad's side) are already concerned that we are not raising him "normal". I don't want a lot of battery driven toys, and highly gendered toys/clothes. I also have decided no licensed characters, since we don't have a TV and I don't want my child to be a consumer.

 

So this year, I asked them to get wood toys, which they did. But they also got a set of miniature sports balls (a football, soccer ball and basketball) and PJs that are highly gendered (I am fine with the firefighter ones- they are heroes. But who knew they make "monster truck rally" feety PJs?) headscratch.gif

 

I have a feeling it will get worse as time goes on. They have already hinted that they want our son to stay with them over summers to do "regular stuff". Sigh.


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#18 of 23 Old 12-24-2010, 03:30 PM
 
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I understand that we all want what's best for our children. We want to do everything we can to help them along this journey.  And some 'mainstream' things are not what come to mind.  But, what do our children learn from us getting frustrated at the quality of our relatives (generous) gifts? 

 

 

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#19 of 23 Old 12-24-2010, 03:48 PM
 
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Yeah, this. I actually usually try to avoid threads like this because it frustrates me how low people's tolerance is for gifts. I totally get the frustration if you give someone a list of things your child might like. But I think gift giving is fun for the giver, too....isn't taht the whole point of Christmas, the joy of giving? We dn't celebrate christmas but I can imagine if there was a really strict list I had to buy off of for someone it might take some of the fun out of shopping. I personallyu would do it anyway because I'd want to give something that the person really wanted. But i can see how others might not do that. And tbh I don't really understand the problem with monster truck pajamas. My ds loves monster trucks and would be thrilled to have monster truck pajamas. I can see why that might be confsuing to someone that monster trucks are not ok but firemen are.

 

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I understand that we all want what's best for our children. We want to do everything we can to help them along this journey.  And some 'mainstream' things are not what come to mind.  But, what do our children learn from us getting frustrated at the quality of our relatives (generous) gifts? 

 

 




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#20 of 23 Old 12-25-2010, 12:05 PM
 
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I personallyu would do it anyway because I'd want to give something that the person really wanted. But i can see how others might not do that. And tbh I don't really understand the problem with monster truck pajamas. My ds loves monster trucks and would be thrilled to have monster truck pajamas. I can see why that might be confsuing to someone that monster trucks are not ok but firemen are.

 

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...But, what do our children learn from us getting frustrated at the quality of our relatives (generous) gifts? 

 

 


 


To clarify my point, I do not ike Monster Truck Rally PJs because it is a highly gendered thing. Firefighters are not highly gendered to me personally- I know plenty of female fire fighters and they are all, regardless of genders, heroes.

 

I was mildly upset by the sports things and PJs because I want to hold off on the tiny confining boxes that we place boys and girls in as long as possible. I would not want pink pretty princess things for a daughter (or "My First Cleaning Trolley" in pink and purple), any more than I would want "Little Quarterback" sweatshirts or PJs with overly wasteful "sports", where the point is to destroy and consume (like monster truck rallies), Blech! I know this is a personal thing. I know some people like that stuff. I do not.

 

I appreciate all that we received, even if I didn't personally like it. I find it hilarious that people here assumed that I or anyone else ranting here wasn't grateful. I have a personal daily gratitude practice! I never said a negative thing to the grandparents who gave us gifts that I would rather my son not have, and instead ranted here- to other mamas that may understand. That is partially what this community is for- to have a space to be heard when most of the world out there doesn't understand our choices. So nagging people for ranting here seems counter-productive to me.


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#21 of 23 Old 12-25-2010, 12:40 PM
 
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I appreciate all that we received, even if I didn't personally like it. I find it hilarious that people here assumed that I or anyone else ranting here wasn't grateful. I have a personal daily gratitude practice! I never said a negative thing to the grandparents who gave us gifts that I would rather my son not have, and instead ranted here- to other mamas that may understand. That is partially what this community is for- to have a space to be heard when most of the world out there doesn't understand our choices. So nagging people for ranting here seems counter-productive to me.

 

What she said!
 


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#22 of 23 Old 12-28-2010, 08:56 AM
 
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My short input wasn't meant to nag, I'm sorry that some may have responded that way...Personally, i believe that ranting, regardless if its done online or in person, still has an effect on ourselves and those around us.   

 

But i think this excerpt from  the journal Lillipoh, (Fall 2010) adds an interesting perspective to this conversation.

 

"Her story reminds me that it is easy to make value judgments about certain toys without paying close attention to the significant, unique meaning and value they may have for the child...helped by the imagination, manufactured toys can and do serve as useful objects for the child.  A colleague, Janet Klaar, spoke of her four year old granddaughter's use of a pink plastic toy mobile phone, which had been bought for her as a gift. It had a noisy buzzer and a tinny voice, which rattled-off a series of prerecorded responses when it first arrived. Naturally, it captivated the child. Some time later, with Granny's help, the batteries wore down. At the this point, the toy gained new life. One of the child's conversations to the now silent, but infinitely more interesting phone, went as follows:

Hello Emily

Now can you tell me which is the fastest light bulb in the world?

(pause as she listened for the answer)

Thank you

And the time here is half past eleven nine ten.

 

Like her mother, she carries her phone around everywhere and uses it frequently...it remains a manufactured replica of a real thing but is no obstacle to her fantasy.  She has made it her own and turned it into a very satisfactory toy. 

What we see and what the child experiences may be two different things and when a child turns up in a kindergarten with an 'undesirable' toy, it is important to be able to see beyond what the toy is and what it has become."

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Tanka - I am so happy you took the time to type this part out from the article. I thought immediately of this article when I read this thread. While I can commiserate with how frustrating it is to sometimes have our efforts as parents actively thwarted - especially when the thwarting comes in the guise of what should be an act of generosity and love, I know that my son has had some fabulous moments of play with items I would have never purchased for him myself. I am grateful that those gifts were always given with the best intentions and I am also always grateful for the happiness they bring him. If the toy breaks, we dispose of it. When it is no longer played with, we pass it on.

 

I recommend the whole article for those who subscribe to Lilipoh. It's a great anthroposophic journal that always has at least two or three thought provoking articles.


Mother to L.O. born at home 10.17.08 EDD for #2 4.21.2011
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