In my world toys fall into 2 camps: Heavenly toys that kids fall in love with, entertain them for hours and require no adult intervention (important point that) and Hellish toys that are messy, fiddly, noisy and require adult participation.
As children get older I have found that the list of heavenly toys is getting longer and hellish toys shorter, thank goodness, but at younger ages (just like Princess (3) and the Wee One who is rapidly appraoching 2) there are far too many hellish toys and activities around. When is a mother supposed to recline with a cup of tea and sewing and gaze adoringly at the little mites playing trains? In my experience, for about 30 seconds maximum but only after spending 45 minutes constructing (and reconstructing) train tracks on her hands and knees sustaining on average two injures from kneeling on small objects, normally lego which inexplicably have migrated to the train track box.
My shortlist of hellish toys is as follows:
- Playdough. They see endless possibilities of model monsters, sausages and pretend peas. I see dough trodden into carpets, dried up between floor boards and endless hours of model making. Please don't misunderstand me, left to my own devices with no interruptions and no children, I could happily spend an hour making play dough monsters.
- Glitter. Arrrggghhh! It gets everywhere as does the glue and a top always has to fall off sprinkly glitter into every crevis and corner. Your toast for days to come has a hint of iridescence about it and no matter how careful you are you will always be sporting a glittery forehead on the school run.
- Board games. The ones where a dice is rolled repeatedly to facilitate counters progressing along a predetermined path that leads nowhere fast whilst trying to obey a long list of pointless rules that only serve to encourage cheating.
- This toy.
The music drills into my head and that bear in the middle that spins around can be held on to and it makes a noise not dissimilar to a pneumatic drill. We have had it since the Big One was one and it refuses to die despite many attempts.
- And this book:
But on a happier note my heavenly toy list is here:
- Lego. Hours and hours of imaginative construction play. The only downside is that we invariably run out of wheels but I can think of worse problems.
- Playmobil. Brilliant stuff that gets the kids into characters, rescuing dolls from burning dolls houses with the helicopter set, preventing terrorist attacks with the aeroplane set and sitting by the paddling pool in the garden while a celebrity photoshoot is underway in the house set. Ok some of those plot lines are made up but you get the picture.
- Pens pencils and paper. As a child I was easily pleased and would amuse myself for days drawing and writing. I am glad to say that the Big One and Princess seem to have inherited that gene and despite many attempts by the Wee One to sabotage their artistic endeavours they persevere and our art wall is growing daily.
- Cars. Lots of cars with a few props like carboard boxes, books as ramps and lego houses and your skirting boards can be wrecked with dents and scuffs. But small price to play. Just be careful of the stray cars abandoned at the bottom of the stairs.
- Balls. No, not an unsolicited insult! The spherical variety. Kick them, roll them, knock things over. Simple pleasures.
Anyway, I must be off to play with my lego.