The Toy Experiment

 "Nothing in the middle of a heap can be truly valued.  The attention that a child could and would devote to a toy is shortened, and eclipsed by having too many.  Instead of expanding their attention, we keep it shallow and unexercised by our compulsive desire to provide more and more and more."
-Simplicity Parenting

We're drowning in toys.  Truth be told, Ellis doesn't have that many toys, but the knick-knacks just get out of hand, especially without the proper storage right now.  We decided to try a "toy library,", where some are stored away and taken out a few at a time.   Ellis is still at the age where we get to manage the toys he plays with.  What isn't right in front of him doesn't matter to him.  I'm all about "non-toys."  Everybody knows that the cardboard box is the most fun part of Christmas.  So I decided to do an experiment on Ellis.  "Toy-toys" versus "Non-toys".  Toy-toys are made specifically for the purpose of play (e.g. blocks or rattles). Non-toys are items made for something other function, but happen to be fun to play with (wooden spoon, water bottle, etc). 

The first thing we did was organize Ellis's toys one evening after he had gone to bed.  The next morning Ellis woke up to a small basket of non-toys: 

Non-toys included a silicone pot-holder, wooden spoon, a plastic bowl, a spice jar with a bell in it, a yogurt container, an old parmesan cheese bottle with pom-poms, and some fabric scraps.

He played with these for three days.  The pile got bigger little by little as Ellis found other things around the house to play with, like a (washed) potato and a metal pan from the kitchen, a pine-cone I had forgotten I had, and one of Reuben's race metals that he wanted Ellis to play with (never to early to start priming him for victory).  He was also teething during this time, so we added a couple of teether toys to chew on (which violated the rules but when you have a teething baby rules don't apply). 

The add-on non-toys

After a couple of days with the non-toys, we swapped them with toy-toys in the evening after he had gone to bed.  Specifically the following:

A variety of wooden and plastic.

After a couple of days with these, I added in two electronic toys that lit up and make noise.  A few days after that, I mixed up the bunch again, to include both toy-toys and non-toys.  My experiment was very scientific, as you can see. 

My hypothesis was that Ellis would enjoy playing with the non-toys better.  So what was the result?  Sorry to disappoint you after having read this far, but this experiment has no dramatic ending.  He was happy with both sets, and I didn't really see a difference in how he played with it.  I think the physical "thing" is less important than what he does with it.   He'll bang a wooden spoon on the tile over and over and over again, but he'll do the same with a plastic toy car.  He'll chase around both a potato and a plastic nesting cup (they always seem to slip away on the tile).   He'll chew on a plastic toy and on a pine-cone. He doesn't care if it came from the toy store or the cupboard.

I'm hoping that he's already learned the secret to being content in all circumstances.  Maybe he just doesn't know any better yet.  In the meantime, I'm happy he's happy and that he doesn't care that his play-thing came from recycling. 

That's my boy.

No comments

Post a Comment

© Reuben + ErinMaira Gall