Like many families, we’ve just had a channukah-induced influx of toys into our house. Recent improvements in storage mean that we actually do have space for these toys, and they have been keeping our kids delightfully busy. We are also blessed with considerate grandparents who remember our space constraints, often giving our kids craft sets that get used up, adding to existing “sets” which saves space, or pooling for one big extra-fun present instead of lots of teeny-tiny ones that make organizing a challenge. We know not all parents are so lucky.
But there was a definite theme to this years gifts, especially for R.
And more cars.
Taken one at a time, all these gifts were perfectly appropriate and both the kids love them. But taken as a whole, we found it a little disconcerting that our stash of pretend motorized vehicles approximately tripled during the span of a week.
So, on a bit of an impulse, feeling compelled to balance things out a tiny bit, we found the one and only bicycle toy set at our local toy store and got one for each kid for the last night of channukah. It’s a playmobil set that includes two kids, a crossing guard, a crosswalk, and a bicycle. Setting aside for a moment that it’s more teeny tiny plastic junk in our lives, that’s our kind of play set. (and now that I’ve looked up the link for this one I found this awesome bike cargo set!)
It was delightful to see how the kids played with these little sets. Immediately the toy-children went on the toy-bikes (with their included helmets) and started having pretend conversations with the toy-crossing-guard about when it was safe to cross the street. H corrected one of the children for weaving her bike on the pretend sidewalk. A dragon found its way into the game, as did a bus* (I’m afraid there was one rather unfortunate bike-bus accident but everyone recovered).
Kids work out all kinds of stuff in play, and hearing their immediate ease and detail in imaginary conversations over this one small toy set, made me realize that a big chunk of their lives was not reflected in the toys we had on hand. We’ve had a toy city bus (courtesy of grandma) in the mix for a while (bus and subway games are very popular around here, and come complete with incomprehensible PA announcements), but our pretend towns were remarkably devoid of walkers and bikers (and our town playmat completely lacks sidewalks or bike lanes). We’ll be on the lookout for more toys along these lines, and probably making more of our own since they are hard to find. The pretend town in our house, of all houses, should certainly have a healthy infrastructure. Do you have any favorites?
* Aunt Cami and Uncle Howie get the prize for finding a public transit toy to add to the mix!