As I sit in my garage typing this post, I am watching my kids bounce balls around. They have spent the last half hour riding their bikes, pretending to be in a race, and now they are competing to see who can bounce their ball the highest, and which ball is best for bouncing. Yesterday, when my niece and nephew were over, they played for about 45 minutes with a bucket, some mud, and some residual water from the sprinklers, pretending to create some potions. Why is it that our world is always thinking that our kids need so much to entertain themselves when, in actuality, they only need a ball or a bucket to make them happy? And why can’t we apply the same principles to our adult lives?
It starts when they are newborns, enjoying just sitting in their carseat, looking around and cooing at nothing. As they get a bit older, they can sit in their bouncy seat or lay on the floor for hours, looking up at whatever inanimate object that hangs above them and laughing at it. Even when they start being mobile, they are still happy rolling around or scooting and exploring what they find as they do so, even if it’s something random. My youngest was obsessed with our couch cover, not sure why. Every time I’d turn around, they would be almost under the couch, playing with the tie that kept the super ugly couch covered. They’d laugh and babble, and just as soon as I’d move them away to dangle an expensive toy in front of them, they’d go right back. And my husband had felt bad when we found out that we were pregnant with #2, so much so that he went out and bought some baby toys (we had enough from #1), some clothes (we were getting enough from my sisters’ kids), and some other random assortment of baby things (think, new bottle nipples). I remember thinking, why did he buy #2 any new toys when we had some from our first, people were most likely going to buy some for their birth, birthday or otherwise, and they’d rather play with other objects that were just laying around the house, i.e. the couch cover?
We have become a materialistic world. Oodles of gifts for birthdays, Christmas, visits from grandma and grandpa, Easter, the list goes on and on. And once the excitement wears off from the actual opening of the gifts? They go back to playing with whatever small broken piece of toy they had been playing with prior to this. Or, my favorite, the playing with boxes, wrapping paper or ribbon. My sister actually got to the point where she would get her kids gifts, but knowing that our family (we have a huge extended family that feels it necessary to get their grandnieces and nephews gifts) would do the same, she often hid her gifts in the attic to then break out for a rainy day, literally. I loved that idea! I started doing that with my own kids, which will prove helpful on the summer days we can’t go outside. That is, of course, they get old enough to remember all of the toys they get, which my sister’s kids are at. Onto the next phase of explaining why they should only ask for the stuff they really want. With my two at 4 and 2.5 years old, I figure I have some time. Not much, but some.
Whether or not we’re old enough to remember sitting on the floor of our parents kitchen in diapers, banging on pots and pans, or we have watched our kids enjoy playing with the fallen leaves and collecting grass scraps to pretend they are gas for their toy cars (that’s what we’re doing in the garage right now), as adults, we need to remember one thing: simple is better. This applies to us and them. We need to remember that they don’t know a world outside of what they are doing right now. So, on that note, I will put my computer away and just sit and watch the simplicity in their childhood games. And try to apply it to my own life. Well, as much as I am able to without losing my job.