Posts Tagged ‘toys’

Remember when you were in elementary school and the latest fad was the MOST important thing in the world?  Do you remember when you weren’t able to get the fad?  When your folks said no.  They told you how it was a fad and it would pass and they weren’t spending their hard-earned money on a trendy fad?  I remember.  While my parents didn’t always say no, it’s easier to recall the feeling of being denied the item than what the item I desperately needed was.  I do remember the trends I got…Rubik’s cube (never did master that), scratch & sniff stickers (why?), Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots (still cool to this day).  I remember I wanted more mood rings, Madlibs, and Atari games.

At the time, I wished I could spend even more time at the mall.  In hindsight, thank you, Mom, for limiting that.  If I only had listened to her about not spending all of my money there too.  Parents have to set limits and restrict the number of trendy fads children get obsessed with. It helps them build character, resist total conformity, and maintain an individual perspective.

Still…my sons really wanted more Pokemon cards.  First, I find it difficult to believe that Pokemon is still as popular as it was in the ’90s.  I totally missed the boat on being into them.  But wow-are my sons into them.  They have each been walking around with their dozen or so cards, learning the lingo, and drooling over the kids who have hundreds of cards.  I don’t want them to conform to everything in society, but learning trading, math, and the rules of Pokemon do help with social norming (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself).  The different characters are sort of cool.  My sons saved up their coins toward more cards.  The oldest had enough money for another ten pack and even gave the extra two dollars (I want my two dollars…) to his younger brother for his Pokemon fund.  This was a generous action on the part of the eight-year-old.  He was actually almost half way to another pack for himself with those two dollars (I want my two dollars…).

So we went to Toys-R-Us this evening.  They carefully deliberated over the different packs they could choose from.  Each made a selection.  I pointed out they could pool their money and buy a multi-set with an extra pack and foil card.  They quickly did the math and said they didn’t have enough money together to buy it.  I offered to make up the difference.  The types of packs they had chosen were in the mulit-set.  They agreed to pool their money and split the third pack, with the younger son getting the foil card since he had fewer cards to begin with.

I grabbed an extra ten pack as a surprise bonus.  The very patient lady helped count out their coins.  I think she enjoyed the old-school, going to Woolworth’s feel of the purchase.  In the car, they split the extra bonus pack, with no quarrels.  They were complimentary to each other about their choices.  They were little men.  It was adorable.

After dinner they carefully sorted their cards and compared how many health points each had.

I will monitor the trends and fads.  I will help them choose wisely.  They won’t always hear no…they won’t always hear yes.  But hopefully the warmth they feel when we do say yes will linger throughout the years.

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Our sons have been resisting a certain fast-food chain in exchange for $10 a week to spend on Jurassic Park toys on ebay.  They went two weeks the first time and then went three weeks the second time.  Today was the end of the three weeks.  Onto ebay we went to search for a command compound.  Well, we found a lot of 60 JP toys for a reasonable amount that to them seemed huge.  The boys wished we had that much money hanging around.

So, we grasped the teachable moment.  We told them together they had $60.  That left quite a balance.  We had a long family discussion about their options from the Bank of Mom & Dad.  We explained what credit is, the conditions of repayment, and what happens if they don’t pay it back.  The two boys deliberated, asked what types of chores would be involved as Jurassic Park chores, and discussed it back and forth for a long time (for an eight and six year old).

They decided to buy on credit from the Bank of Mom & Dad.

They shook on the deal.

They stood on either side of me as I clicked “Buy It Now.”

They cheered!

They are now the proud owners of 6 JP vehicles, 3 T-rexes, about 20 dinosaurs (many with sounds or actions), about 20 action figures, a motorcycle, a fence compound with classic JP gates, and a Chaos Effect mobile command center.  They each grabbed a juice box and toasted their investment.  Then, being young boys, they began divvying up the toys.

They are now in bed, having difficulty falling asleep because it feels quite a bit like Christmas…except they paid for the toys.  The older son came out to ask if he could read a story to his brother to help him fall asleep.  He grabbed the big blue book (it’s a big thick book of children’s literature…same one I had growing up…a gift from my mom).   As I eavesdropped on the reading, I heard  “Night Before Christmas” being read.

Their Jurassic Park room just got a lot of cool accessories.  And we hopefully taught them a little something about managing their money and responsibility.

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The boys and I were shopping today for the presents for the tags we pulled off the tree at the library.  Each tag has a request from a girl or boy for presents.  You return the presents with the tag back to the library and the volunteers deliver them to the children.  As we were walking around the store, my youngest ran into a friend from kindergarten.  The two greeted each other like little men and stood talking as if they were in their 30s and not only six years old.  They caught up on what each one was doing, compared first grade teachers (since they are in different classes this year), and discussed toys they are hoping to receive on December 25th.

As I chatted with the mom, I watched both my sons.  My oldest made small talk with the older sister (she’s in second grade) and gave his brother space to socialize with his friend.  It is so much fun to watch them being the little social creatures they are.  I love watching them as they crawl out of their egocentric cocoon.  We all remain egocentric to some degree, one could argue Maslow’s theories require this, but we branch out as we grow up.

This eight minute exchange in a department store helps them begin to learn social niceties and graces.  Selecting a tag from the tree at the library and giving thought to selecting presents to give to children who are waiting for a happier situation helps them become aware of the world around them.  And today the social niceties also brought a surprise bonus.  The friend and his sister were at the store doing the same thing-picking out presents for the children on the tags they pulled off the tree at the library.

How cool was that…to find being gracious and thoughtful at this time of year for little children who you only know through a tag is cool.  My sons walked away with smiles on their faces.  I walked away with a smile in my heart.

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Grace and daily life

Grace.  Graciousness.  I ponder this concept daily.  I try to be graceful or gracious each day, but there are moments each day when I lose the grace.  It could be on my commute to work when someone cuts me off…actually whenever this happens I lose the ability to be graceful.  I don’t understand the people who change lanes every few minutes, especially when the flow of traffic is at a crawl.  Do they truly believe that jockeying for a spot in front of one more car in the other lane will get them to work any sooner?  And during these traffic jams, I despise when the motorcycle forgets that we’re supposed to treat them the same as any other full-sized vehicle and magically drive on the dotted lines.  Hello!  Sit in the traffic like the rest of us, you putz.  See, the grace disappears even while writing about it.

Once I lose my cool I then get angry with myself that I lost my grip on grace.  I am getting better at letting that go quickly, but I need to stop losing the grip all together.  I maintain grace pretty well at work (I think).  I feel as though I use up most of the reservoir of grace throughout the work day.  What I have left over at home always seems to take more effort.  I know grace is always attainable, so is it that I’m meaner at home or is that I feel as though the ones I love are able more easily to take me losing grace?  The irony is the ones I want to shower with grace and love and patience seem to get the leftovers.  This is not the way I want it.  I need to be more disciplined in the way I share grace at home, without simply spoiling the boys out of guilt.

The boys are having an awesome streak.  They’ve been very loving, very into sharing, and working their manners like maniacs.  They are in full “I want that for Christmas” mode.  Must avoid commercial television-would help me to keep my grace!  They want everything that isn’t pink.  Most items have lots of small pieces (further challenges to grace).  I can’t see Santa bringing many of those though since they haven’t gained consistency in taking care of the many small pieces they currently possess.

But the big gift they each want is a bike.  Hamilton can ride, with training wheels, but he doesn’t practice very much.  I’ve never even seen Harrison try to ride a bike.  The only good part about this is at least I didn’t miss while I was at work.  If Santa does bring bikes, I really will have to finally get new tires for the bike I bought at a yard sale three or four years ago.  It would be nice to go riding with my sons in the spring.  Hopefully, the cup of grace will be running over when they learn how to ride.

Sleep calls.  One of many ways to recharge the grace battery.

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I don’t know how it happened.  I do know when it happened.  This is the summer of my discontent.  My sons have taken the first step to independence and I have become chopped liver.  Their world was parent-centric.  Now it’s play-outside-all-day-and-what-do-you-mean-I-have-to-come-in-centric.

Yes, I’m happy for them.  Yes, it’s means they’re growing up just like we want them to, with independence and confidence.  Yes, it means so many wonderful things.

But, first I’m going to have myself a bit of a pity party.

Where are my babies?

Okay, pity party’s over.  What an exciting time.  Yeah, yeah, for them, but I mean for me and my hubby.  We could pick up our hobbies again.  Heck, I’ve already been cast in a show.  I’m going to rehearsal tomorrow and the boys have to come with me, instead of me going with them.  My husband and I have had actual conversations in the recent weeks.  Conversation that were uninterrupted by “Mom, he’s touching me.”  I’ve been completing whole thoughts all at once.  I’ve been working on house projects, including catching up on Hugh Laurie and House.  I’ve done, dare I write it, reading for FUN and the book was a grown-up book with no pictures.  I’m current in the grading for my summer class.

While it is hard to think that the early childhood years have almost passed, it is invigorating to know that the early work took hold.  Our sons are getting it.  No, not perfectly-we really need to work on that talking back to your mother thing-but they are problem solving, compromising, sharing, thinking of others, and having fun with their friends.  They have entered that time of their life when they have secrets that mean the world that they forget the following week.  They make secret clubs and handshakes.  They can do anything, be anything.  It’s the time of youth when everyday objects hold magical powers, the days are never long enough, and the plans they make will really happen.   This summer marks the beginning of one of the best times of their lives and, oh my sweet sons, I am so happy for you.

It’s like the summer in It when the six of them first battle It.  Okay, I don’t hope that my sons end up in the bowels of the sewers battling a monster so hideous one can only call it It, but this is like that summer.  The summer of innocence when a child can still believe in monsters and the tooth fairy.  This won’t be their only summer like this, they’ll have four or five more, but this is the first one for them.  One of the boys they play with (an older boy, he’s 11) is in his last summer of innocence.  You can see it changing for him.  Some days he can completely suspend disbelief, other days he struggles and usually goes home.  The summers of suspension of disbelief.  They’re awesome.

My job now is to let them have their grand adventures.  To let them believe.  To quickly bandage their scrapes so they can back out there.  To hug them when their feelings are hurt and they’re never going to talk to so-and-so again (at least till they’re back outside talking to so-and-so again).  I’ve got to say, it hurts just a wee bit to let them have the space and time away from the “safety” of home.  But only until one of them runs in to get a toy, and pauses to come to me, wrap his arms around me, and say, “I love you, Mom.”  Then the hurt is not so bad.

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My sons have been busy creating leprechaun traps for the past few days. They are quite serious about this and felt they had to set them this evening in order to catch a leprechaun. The trap designs all resemble something Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius, would construct to catch a certain bird, but their enthusiasm makes up for any lack of originality.

I asked what they would do with the leprechaun they might catch and the answer always revolved around getting the pot of gold from the end of the rainbow. My oldest said if the leprechaun won’t give it to him, he would flush the little man down the toilet. Pretty tough, if you ask me.

I’m not quite sure why they are so fixated on leprechauns this year. They have some Irish in them, but not much. I didn’t think they were obsessed with gold, but then again they love those commercials. “Do you know what that sound is? That’s the sound of security…that’s the sound of GOLD!” They also love Yukon Cornelius from Rudolph…they scratch the snow, taste it for gold and mutter “nothin’!” Perhaps even my little wee ones are worried about the economy and want the leprechaun’s gold to cash in for some cold, hard cash. Legos don’t come cheap, you know, and they need more Power Miners. They have a very long birthday and Christmas wish-list which they start creating about four days after New Year’s Day. The money has to come from somewhere for these toys.

I have voice-mails  from my cell phone that I saved because they are too funny. One is from my five-year old and starts like this, “um, hi, Mom, um, I want Lego Atlantis for my birthday. Okay? Will you write that down?” (from the background you can hear my husband ask “Is that it?”) “Yes, okay, ‘bye Mom.” He told his father he really needed to talk to me and that was the message. He left this particular one in October. His birthday is in July.

We never intended to spoil them. It happened gradually. We have to un-spoil them now. That takes even longer. Then again, maybe they will catch a leprechaun tonight and force him to give them his gold. All we’d have to do then is teach our boys to budget wisely.

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