With Monkey's birthday only a few weeks away--and only a small celebration planned--it's likely he will have a few more toys to add to his collection so it's time for a change. Part of my reluctance to part with toys is fear that he or Munchkin will miss out. I know that's silly because real fear has nothing to do with toys. But by missing out, I mean taking away a favorite toy before it has a chance to become favored. For example, for Monkey's first Christmas, my older sister gave him a three-tier-garage. It was big and Monkey initially had no interest in it so I wasn't sure if we should keep it. Within a few months though, that garage was used for hours a day and, three years later, is still used regularly by both kids. What if one of the toys I take away is Munchkin's garage? What if one of the toys will be developmentally perfect for reaching her next milestone? What if the kids start asking for something that--palm to forehead--I just gave away.
Yet, I know the truth. I've given away boxes of toys and the one thing Monkey noticed was missing was an actual cardboard box we had converted to a boat. (Okay, he has asked for couple other toys, but usually months after the fact.) The one time I Iet him see I was loaning a toy to a friend he got very upset and asked about it for three days but not since. I can't even remember half the toys I've given away. I'm working on teaching Monkey to appreciate what he has and this birthday might be the ideal opportunity to finally have him swap his old toys for new ones instead of just adding to the pile.
I've been mulling the idea of filling it up a basket with stuff the kids don't use as often as I wish they did and hiding it in my closet. I've heard kids play differently when they have less toys, so maybe this would be the test. Supporting that theory is a beautiful exhibit online showing kids all over the world and their favorite toys. The photographer, Gabriele Galimberti, said that the kids everywhere had similar toys and their favorites were often chosen for similar reasons (a couple thought that their toy dinosaurs protected them from danger). However, he said that the richest children were the most possessive and the poorest were much more willing to share the two or three toys they had. When I consider what I want for my kids, I don't actually want them to have the most toys, I want them to have the most compassion. Tonight, after the kids are in bed, I am going to try the experiment. I'll fill up the basket with those toys and see if they notice. If not, the kids aren't the only ones who will have learned a lesson.