Prison House of No Toys

OK, so here’s the deal.  I know the answer is “we’re totally NOT doing it wrong,” but it can’t help but FEEL like we’re doing it wrong some days.  Doing WHAT?  Raising up a kid, that’s what.

My wife wrote about RR’s recently play date.  What she failed to mention, though, is where the play date took place made our house look like prison.  We dropped RR off at Jane’s house, where, as soon as we walked in, there was an entire room gated off and covered in primary colored cushiony alphabet letter flooring, with wall-to-wall toys and bookcases full of FUN.  A tent, a tunnel, a battery-powered thing that played songs and used air to pop up little plastic balls.  Behold, the play room.

I’m sure these reasonable (and VERY nice folks) were actually very proud that their playroom wasn’t the entire basement floor.  Seriously – Google “playroom” images.

And honestly, if you look at any new construction for sale, the basement is always either staged as a Man Cave or a Play Room.  And yes, we have a hybrid of things in our basement, but it is most certainly not a Play Room.  Unless you’re a spider.  Then it’s TOTALLY a Play Room.

Anyhow – we dropped RR off, got in the car, and kind of moaned to ourselves.  OMG.  What on earth must they have thought when they dropped Jane off at our Prison House of No Toys.  But that’s not totally true.  She has toys.  (SHG can confirm.)  They’re just… not a LOT.  They are, actually, more than my wife is comfortable having, truth be known.  There’s a small toddler table with RR’s “things” on it:  a school bus, some figurines, a tiny blanket that Granny knitted FOR the figurines, and maybe a stuffed animal or two.  There is no Play Room.  There ARE a lot of African masks and a pretty nifty fetish.

She doesn’t really play with toys.  Well, she plays with a toy, singular, for a very long time.  But nothing lights up.  Or takes up more than two square feet.  Or is even primary colored.  She has a bookcase of puzzles in her room that she never plays with.

But then there are other things.  Like the fact that she doesn’t know any princesses, really.  That, at her playdate, Jane’s mother said, “I gave her a Go-Gurt, and it seemed like she had never had one before?  She kept asking me to open it.  But it was open…”  And that, on weekends, she prefers to wear her Scratchy Shirts.   The red and gold one – the “Redskins” she says.  The “Bears” one, which is actually an Official NFL Jay Cutler jersey that her fake rich uncle sent her.  She likes to watch the “men running” with me on Sundays after her nap.

And speaking of naps.  That she still takes three-hour long ones on the weekends.  IN HER CRIB.  That, the other day after her nap, she wanted to be left alone, in the dark of her room, sitting in her recliner with milk and goldfish crackers.

I know we’re doing it right.  I do.  I very much do.  That’s not to say that everyone else is doing it “wrong” as much as doing it differently.  But a lot of them are doing it differently, the same way.  There’s princesses and Play Rooms and Go-Gurt and wanting to wear something specific (that isn’t a football jersey) and peeing in the potty.  Instead, we have Mr. and Mrs. Spoon at the dinner table and sitting along in the dark in her room and diapers.

Not wrong, but different.  Right?

Posted on September 24, 2013, in everyday. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Sounds Awesome to me! Id love my baby to have a play date at your place some day!

  2. My baby can come over for a play date too! I bet he’d love the African masks. I have more light up toys given to me at this point than I’d like. But, I’ve got a bookcase full of good books, a tiny wooden table and chairs (stored in the spiders’ play room for now), stuffed animals, wooden and felt play food, and plans for things like a costume box and homemade gluten free play dough. I rotate through the light up and musical type toys and he shows more interest in the stuffed giraffe my cousin gave him than the octopus that says the colors and plays music. Doing things MY way of right!

    • The African masks are really something else. Who knows how kids assign value to toys (or sometimes, in our case, eating utensils), and pick the things they like to play with the most. RR is really the master of the land of make believe. She’s always been perfectly content to just play with whatever is nearby. Case in point – a picture we have of her sitting in her playpen when she was just barely sitting up, playing with a couple of plastic kitchen plates we had put in there (why, I don’t know). Just pleased as can be.

      MY way of right. I love it.

      • That’s awesome! If my son drops a toy and can’t reach it, he starts playing with a strap or cloth or piece of Velcro. Whatever’s in reach! When I was little, I would ask adults and the other kids at family functions if they wanted to play something with me. If they’d all say no, I was perfectly content to do it by myself while hanging out near people. If I’d thrown a fit, maybe they would have played more 😉

  3. What!? No Princesses? Poor RR! 😁

    But seriously we are all just doing what we think is best for our children. There is no right or wrong way.

    We try to stay minimalist when it comes to toys, unfortunately MIL/FIL never fail to come bearing bags of toys, some new but many hand-me-downs from cousins.

    • Poor, princess-neglected RR.

      I think if M’s parents lived closer, maybe she’d have more stuff. Actually, scratch that – probably not. If my mom were still alive, you bet she’d have every Disney DVD out there and anything that’s ever lit up and played loud obnoxious music. God rest her soul.

      These other girls in her class have… plastic fancy shoes, and paint their toenails, and have braids and hair accessories, and not only have princesses, they have a FAVORITE princess. Poor RR. 🙂

  4. Not wrong! Far from wrong! RR is going to have an incredible imagination and value what she HAS over wanting EVERYTHING she sees. Different isn’t bad, especially when it is WORKING for your family!

  5. Speaking as someone who HAS a playroom and all the multi-primary-colored gadgets AND a popping-ball-musical-thingy (and has been considering buying the tunnel and tent combo thing), you are not doing it wrong. Just differently. RR isn’t suffering- she is clearly so very loved and that is all she needs.

    You keep doin’ what you’re doin’!

    • Oh yeah. And she’ll catch on to the princess thing even without having them at home. My kid and kids like my kid will tell her and then she will come home wanting them and you’ll wonder where THAT came from… yeah. That would be me. Sorry about that.

  6. Well, just so you know, you and I are doing it right together, the same way. A lot of people are doing it right, just the same way you do. I feel the same way you do though. We live in a semi sorta suburban mom type area and I have been to the houses with the play rooms and no tv and interesting forms of play. I will say that Punky has a lot of toys, but she has no ‘room’ and she isn’t allowed to have access to much of our apartment. The whole livingroom is gated off and it’s not very big. When you say prison, that’s what I am thinking of! At the end of the day, Punky has a room she sleeps in, but not much else in that room. She’s super independant and doesn’t want to play with most of her toys, she doesn’t want to talk to her moms, she wants to talk to Dora and she wants to put a butter bucket on her head. No biggie. I say RR is doing just fine and you are both doing excellent mommy jobs!

  7. Jesus god. A playroom doesn’t make for “doing it right.” I wish they didn’t exist – fewer playrooms, more children participating in real family life, aka child labor.Don’t buy more toys. In fact, I back your wife in throwing some out/not getting anymore. And, please. Princesses? You know what I’ll say about that. Don’t even get me started on those (wasteful, land-fill filling, bad-manners-promoting) squeeze yogurts. I make kids squeze them into a bowl and then use a spoon when they show up at school. #ECEopinions
    Entertainingly, there is a picture of me in a sports shirt of some sort when I was close to RR’s age. I did turn out gay, though, so maybe you should put a stop to her wearing those shirts?

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