I’m not sure why we have toys in the house. Okay, I know why we have toys. However – and believe me, believe me, this is not a complaint – the kids’ toys are suffering from extreme neglect. And this is a good thing. It’s all about creative play around here these days; it’s great, the kids have been getting along so well that it makes me wish I could really capture this moment and make it last, if not forever, then for a very long time. Remember in Little House in the Big Woods how Laura and Mary play in the attic for months, with only corncob dolls and pumpkins for playthings? It’s like that, but instead of corncob dolls it is pieces of string and old Valentines, and instead of pumpkins it is an old exercise mat and a couch cushion. Here is a list of the games that have been played for, literally, hours during the past few days:

1) Couch fishing. Sit on the couch with a long piece of string, and every few minutes shriek “I caught something!” followed by “Oh, it’s just an old tire.”
2) Couch canoeing. Pull cushions off of the couch and pretend that you are rowing in a canoe. Shriek “Man overboard!” and jump off. Repeat.
3) Mud puddle. Lie on old exercise mat while your brother yells “I can’t believe you got in the mud again!” Then run into the bathroom, stand in the bathtub, and pretend to take a shower. Repeat.
4) Mail delivery. Obtain a pile of last year’s Valentines. Run through the house looking for cupboard doors to hide them in. Say “I never fail to deliver the mail” emphatically many, many times. Run through the house retrieving hidden Valentines. Repeat.
5) Build a giant tower with Mega Blocks. Start shrieking “Jack, Jack, Jack” which will cause brother to “load” the tower with “dynamite”. Kick the tower down while shrieking “Clear the site!”. Repeat.

Note that there are a couple of commonalities in this list: first, there is a lot of shrieking and noise in my house. Second, there is a lot of repetition. Third, with the exception of the Mega Blocks, not one of these games actually requires a toy. Sometimes I look at my house and imagine all of the molded plastic toys in a landfill somewhere, and I am incredibly ashamed at our environmental footprint. Of course the boys do play with their toys, of course they do enjoy their things, but mostly I feel there is so much we could do without.

This ties into the way I feel about the current economic situation. I was reading an article that stated over the past decade, average consumer debt has been almost double disposable household income in the US. In other words, for every dollar earned, nearly two were being spent. Of those discretionary expenditures, how much could have been done without?


  1. My kids either play a) Christmas or b) farm.
    That’s it. Soem day they’ll figure out how to merge the two and that’s all they’ll play until they grow up.

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