I have had this in my mind for a while and the recent post about the colored pencil on the play kitchen made me want to ask.
How do you all reconcile having very expensive play things in your home and small children who might "ruin" them. I have pretty much THE most careful little boy I have ever met, but he still dings wood toys and occasionally decides something that is plain wood needs color or a face. He's a kid. These are his toys. He is playing with them. We have never spent that much on our small collection of toys, so I don't get too bent out of shape when it happens.
Conversely, he really cares about his toys. And so sometimes when friends and thier little siblings come over to play he gets upset when they treat our special handmade toys the same as a platic dollar store trinket. It gets bashed and boomed and broken and colored on and stepped on and sometimes lost altogether somehow. My son once said "let's put all the toys away before X comes over b/c I don't want her little brother to ruin them." -- which I found incredibly sad and ironic and explained to him that we can help remind the little brother to be gentle, but I am NOT going to hide toys from kids!
What do you all do with play dates and expensive waldorf toys? How about bringing the toys to the park/ pool/ beach/ friend's house/ etc? What happens if your own kid (even the really careful ones) get creative with their pristine play kitchen or Ostheimer animals? Or wanting to drag the Waldorf doll to the muddy park or the beach or...?
damage happens... accidental, intentional or just wear and tear. The toys belong to my kids and they take them along anywhere they wish - they do not know the monetary value of their toys just the play value.
The beauty of waldorf toys is that they are simple and sturdy and if they do break they are very easy to repair. The important thing I think is to minimise possibility of damage by giving child toys that are age appropriate and show them how to care for their belongings, if accident happen - fix it together, if dolly comes grubby from the park or falls in a puddle give it a wash...I guess, I just never had any unfixable problems.
We really only have 1 set of friends outside of our daughter's classmates with whom we have play dates. And the older child has broken something, in my opinion, due to sheer lack of reverence for her own play things. So, when she is over, I just try to be vigilant without being overbearing. For us, it does not appear to be a matter of extensive play as much as it is a matter of not bringing an appreciation for her own play things to the setting. I haven't seen this problem with our play dates with children from my daughter's Waldorf class.
As far as my own kids getting creative with their toys, there have been a few instances of coloring on wooden toys. I just remind them that crayons are for P.A.P.E.R. It's the 2 year old I have the issue with, now. Ultimately, I don't think it's anything that a little soap and water and beeswax polish won't fix. The creative incididences bother me much less than the heavy handed ones where things get broken or damaged because someone old enough to know better just decides they're going to do x, y, or z to the toy anyway. I also think that trying to keep their space orderly and involving them in cleaning it up helps them to have an appreciation for what they have. With my older child (she's 5.5, now) I've been involving her for the past 2.5 years in culling her toys. It gives her a chance to be thoughtful about what she enjoys playing with and what might be more enjoyable for another child to have.
Now, mind you, this has done absolutely nothing to curb the "I wants". We've got a bad case of those in our house and I think I have only myself to blame due to an over-stocked play room.
Mama to add 10/05; ds 3/09, and two angels
QUOTING OP: "My son once said "let's put all the toys away before X comes over b/c I don't want her little brother to ruin them." -- which I found incredibly sad and ironic and explained to him that we can help remind the little brother to be gentle, but I am NOT going to hide toys from kids!"
While I wouldn't let ds hide all of his toys from other kids, I'd certainly let him choose a few toys that he really cares about and let him put them away. Let him learn to share (and the hazards of sharing--sometimes things come back in worse condition that they were). But let him know that his feelings are important, too, and it's ok not to share everything.
For example, I happily lend books to my friends. But a brand new special book that I haven't read yet? I won't lend that out until I'm ready to share it. A friend who hasn't returned the other books I've lent her? I need those back before I'll loan out another one to her.
We take it in stride. We have some expensive toys, and even with an out of control 18 month old, we do our best to teach care. Our wooden kitchen has gotten plenty of paint splatters on one side, but it does look sweet. We do not purposely do art on our kitchen, but sometimes paint just flies. We live in a small space. It reminds me of the creativity that happens all over our home. We clean and polish our wooden toys, but life still happens. The more something gets played with, the wear will show. Our playdates usually happen outdoors, and we really only have balls, a sandbox, a swing and generally "outdoor" things like that. And we never bring toys to the park, or really anywhere out of the house except in the car. When indoors, kids are crazy about the kitchen and the art supplies. Not much else really gets a lot of play. And, it seems, that kids are really more attracted to our plastic, hard to destroy toys too. Sometimes a wooden block will make it to the art table or desk, and art will get created on it. We have one 1" black now we keep as a keepsake, that was designed with marker and is just so beautiful.
If marks that are "permanent" get onto kitchens, or other unsealed wood, would sanding help remove it?
Is there some reason you think that Waldorf toys need to be expensive? A beautiful toy doesn't have to be expensive but hopefully it will be well loved. Loving a toy causes wear which is different then accidents caused by reckless play. DS has always taken good care of his toys whether they are expensive or inexpensive, fancy wood or not. It is his personality and also what we model for him. At age four, we currently have ever piece of every toy that I can think minus one puzzle piece that haunts me. DH did step on break one of his "wave elements" one time but was able to fix it.
We don't throw our toys, we are careful to gather all the pieces when we put it away, when we are missing a piece we look for it, when pieces are dirty for some reason we try and clean them, when damage occurs we try to fix it, when we don't play them any more they go to another child or to storage at grandmas. If we aren't playing with toys in a respectful way we put it away for another day (usually the 20m jumping on something etc.). The only exception to this rule if someone gives us a gift that requires a battery I don't replace it. Battery wears out and it turns into a lump of junk. It goes into the closet and then I take it to the thrift store. We store toys on narrow shelves so everything gets displayed, is accessible, and is hopefully attractive and appealing. I actually enjoy the wear and tear on some of our best loved pieces.
He gets quite frusterated when we play at other houses because he never find the pieces or there are broken bits or there is a bin of toys taller than he is or the pages in books are torn. I don't put away any toys when someone plays at our house but it probably wouldn't go very well if there was throwing or god forbid scattering of "accessories" from something like Playmobil. DS would be sure to tell him to be careful.
To me, and I was the one who posted about the toy kitchen, damage to a toy is never about expense. But I buy toys carefully, often handmade, and hope for a long life for them either with my children or someone else's. I never buy junk and I never think of things as disposable. I felt bad that something that was handmade was marked up so quickly. And for that matter, I wasn't very pleased with my reaction, which was more about surprise than distress.
Some toys have a specific life and play style. Cloth dolls don't go outside or in the bath. Sand toys don't played with inside. Bath toys don't go to the park. Nothing is too precious for play. We don't have any outdoor space so there is usually a pretty firm division between inside and park.
I believe that once you buy something, it's yours to do what you like with it. I spent many years (even and especially as a child) saving certain items and not getting full joy out of them. As a parent now, I am much more lenient. My child currently has flowers in a very treasured vase. I do believe that children should enjoy beautiful things at the appropriate time for each particular item, sort of a Montessori idea, I guess. My daughter has drunk out of glass cups since she was able to drink from an open cup. That said, I anticipate wear and tear--I try to buy things made from hardwood if I have a choice, like an ash playstand instead of pine. I choose natural wood over painted, since I feel it will show less wear than chipping paint. For toys that are especially treasured and people or places that might harm them, I suggest leaving them at home (such as, the baby should stay in the car since she doesn't have a coat on). We are big on being gentle with things at our house. It was probably one of the first instructions my child was able to grasp. If we are going to the home of another child, we leave our toys at home. If something as simple as a crayon is broken, my daughter gets quite disappointed (one of the reasons I like the block crayons best), but that's just who she is. It is complicated, for sure, but most things can be washed. If my child were worried about a certain toy getting broken or damaged, we'd put it away for the time needed.
Mothering an Autumn (08) , a Spring (11) , and another Autumn! (Nov. 2013)
Taking what works and leaving the rest
To respond in reverse...
I have no problem with putting things away before guests come and see nothing wrong with it. I wouldn't put away ALL our toys, but if there are certain special or more delicate ones and having them about will hinder your child's or your enjoyment of the guests, by all means away they go, out of sight. We can lead by example with our treatment of toys but I certainly don't think you can alter how another person's child behaves in your home with a couple of hours on occasional play dates.
As for how they treat their own toys, I *try* to be hands-off as you. I also had a very careful little boy who has probably never broken a toy in his life. However he was once delighted to use a new stamp a friend gave him on his wooden play kitchen. *gasp* I told myself it would sand off easily but to be honest, years later I still haven't tried, I just got used to it. The flipside is I have another child who just isn't that careful, it's just not in her nature. I try not to give her things she can break easily or hurt herself on, but it still happens. If it's truly unfixable, that's just what happens sometimes and perhaps someday it will stick with her. In regards to deliberate 'defacing' (or decorating, to them) I always keep art supplies separately from toys and monitor their use. Things still happen, even accidentally. Her beloved Waldorf Doll was 'sliding' down a piece of cardboard she had previously colored and got some blue crayon on her face. I do my best to not freak out about such things (though inside I am completely upset about her 'perfect' and beautiful doll being 'ruined,' it really isn't so to her) and just show her what happened and how it happened and we try to fix the doll. It wore off eventually.
Dd is very careful with her toys but we do have the occasional drawing on our playkitchen. Dh made the play kitchen so I might be a little more chill about it because I was the one who sanded it down and finished it with bee's wax polish. So if crayon gets on it or she puts a strawberry that's half eaten I know I can just sand it down. Dd's wooden animals I don't think can actually be colored on with the finish they have on them (Jalu and Holtzinger) and her waldorf doll (again that I made) is meant to be loved and abused. That being said we don't have people over with little kids ever. We don't have any friends that have kids and while we do go to mom and tots they never come over. Dh said that I should offer to host mom and tots as we have a bigger house then where it currently is, but I told him I didn't think any of the kids would know what to do with our toys .
When she was 18ish months I babysat my nephew and everytime he touched one of her toys she freaked out. So we put away her favorites and brought out some ones meant for older kids (nephew was 4) that she hadn't seen before. I would do the same again if she felt strongly about it.
Canadian Mama to E 2yrs
Someone new coming October!
When my son was younger ( he's now 8) we put whatever he wanted to up in his room- that was his space where things could be safe from playdates and other children I cared for in my home. I encouraged this because I never wanted him to feel like he "had" to share everything that may be special to him. Who wants to do that?
Oh, and one of my favorite things is the solid pine coffee table we had when ds was young. It is all scratched and dented from play!
We've got a mix of mama-made, etsy-made and some super good bargains of the big brands. I learned very early on that a beautiful toy is still a TOY. They get nicks. And sometimes, an animal gets decorated. I was crushed when the first bigger thing I got DS was decorated with sharpie and highlighters. :( But I took a deep breath and took it as a lesson. (And put the sharpies somewhere higher!)
I'm grateful for what DS has. They represent work and love on my part--whether I made them myself, or sold my own work to pay for them. And they are loved and played with by him! They get a little grungy. And the Ostheimer horse has a pink mane now. Various animals are chipped. One mama-made dinosaur went through the washing machine and is significantly faded!
But they're toys. Not museum pieces. I teach him respect for his belongings, but I don't flip out when something happens. When he was two...he did two year old things. Now that he's four, he rarely decorates his toys...he's much more likely to cut bits of yarn to make reins. (Says the mama with a bedroom covered in tiny snips of red yarn...the cats love this phase!)
My nearly 7 year old loves to play at being a knight. Last year for his 6th birthday I made him a Waldorf doll with knight's clothes, a knight's cape and I bought him a lovely wood sword. I spent 25$, which i think is a good deal, but certainly not as cheap as some of his friends' plastic dollar store swords. He plays really hard with it, and I've had to remake the rope hilt, sand rough edges, etc. Anyway, over the last couple of months some of his outdoor sword"practice" has lead to the sword being wittled down like a fencing rapier. I'm great with that! He obviously really appreciated the toy, it lasted way longer than any dollar store toy would, and all the shaved off pieces will go to the earth, anyway (although i think I might try my hand at working with scrapwood from the barn building for the next sword).
Busy keeping up with three children and an awful lot of chickens!
I would let DS put the toys away before guests come.
He is careful with his toys and knows others might not be. It is wise of him to put them away.
Now I know you are Ok with toys getting banged upped but he is not and they are his toys. It is about respecting him and where he is at. If you insist he keep toys out and they break he may:
1. feel resentful of you for not letting him put the toys away
2. learn to dread guests or guests with young kids coming over.
I would recommend you buy or make special toys that are availible for guest. Be clear to Ds that these are not his toys - but toys for guests as well and if they break they break. You will get to have toys for guests and role model how to be forgiving if toys break - but do it with your/family toys.
To me toys are toys and are meant to play with. If that means they get damaged, oh well!
However I always give my son the option of putting away certain toys before a friend comes over. I think it s respectful and lets him know a favorite toy is "safe".
Pardon me while I