For me, toys are one of those things that evoke a serious emotional response. They were a sore spot of my growing up, and in hindsight one of my greatest joys. My parents were different than every other parent I knew as a kid. There was no searching, no waiting in line for the best new toy. Toys had to be educational and encourage creativity. I thought it was because my parents were boring. It was more likely that as self employed part time organic vegetable farmers, they were picky with a limited budget, and wanted to make sure I got the most out of their disposable income. They were also not into stereotypes, or giving in to the marketing drama.
I wanted a Barbie, I was given a baby doll from the collection of a woman who could never have children. One of her favorite baby dolls that she gave away in later life, long after her dream of having her own family had passed. I treasured that doll, sewed clothes for it, and never once gave it a purple mohawk.
I wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid, and got a hand made knock off made by someone in our community. She was perfect, she even looked like me (a choice of doll wasn't an option at the time, when you were lucky to get one, let alone have choice in appearance), and I named her Mary Lou, after Mary Lou Retton. It was 1984, the year she got the perfect ten.
I don't know if I had gotten what I thought I wanted most if I would have appreciated them as much as what I did get, or gotten too much out of them. At 30, I still have an active imagination, and that creative thinking helps me with the problem solving I need to be successful in my career. (who says art majors can't work in IT, and not as a designer either)
With M we are challenged to balance the flexibility we have because of our careers, with helping make sure she appreciates what she has. Add to that the issues with lead paint, the constant barrage of electronics, and it seems there are far more challenges than my parents had to deal with. Fortunately, so far we think we have found some balance. At her first birthday she didn't receive anything that required batteries, and as much as I want her to have everything I didn't, I am learning to be reserved. I do my research, I try to support independent businesses and ones that are more careful about the products they release. As she gets older, we are also going to make sure she knows how fortunate she is by encouraging her to be generous with those who aren't as lucky.
This post is a part of a Parent Blogger Network blog blast, sponsored by Hasbro. They're giving away a huge toy prize package, see the details about how to enter yourself at the PBN blog. Small extra plug since it is for a good cause, if you shop at Hasbro right now in addition to free shipping, they are donating a toy for every toy purchased, up to $400,000. You know, and they make my favorite preschool game from my own childhood. (we already own it for when M is old enough) Chutes & Ladders!