Monday, October 24, 2011

Uphill Battle

I've developed some very strong opinions on parenting in the last weeks/months/years.  I think every parent has to have strong opinions, otherwise you would just get swept away by all the chaos surrounding you.  But what I've realized more than ever in the last several weeks is that we have a steep uphill battle ahead of us.  Not against our children, but FOR our children. 

Simple story to illustrate my point:  Today Baby Girl and I went to Toys-R-Us.  She absolutely loves her teddy bear - she hugs and snuggles it all the time.  I really want to get her a very basic, small, soft bodied doll for her birthday.  Apparently this is WAY too much to ask.  At the toy store, there were dolls that laugh, dolls that cry, dolls that eat, dolls that pee, dolls that swim, dolls that play peek-a-boo, and so many other things.  Dolls that are just dolls and you allow your imagination to take over so they can do all those things?  Unheard of these days.  A few dolls made noises by motion sensors - startling the crap out of both of us when we walked by and one even made my little angel cry.  And this was all on the doll aisle for baby/toddler dolls.  Don't even get me started on the dolls for older girls.  When did it become ok to encourage your 8-12 year old daughter to play with some of the toys they were selling in the other girl's aisles?  I can't believe the outfits some of the dolls were in or the ridiculousness of the accessories that go with them.  Needless to say, we bought nothing and I would be happy to never set foot in Toys-R-Us again.

Why is it so against the norm for children to play with toys that don't involve batteries?  EVERYTHING is battery operated.  They light up, they sing, they move...they drive me crazy!  We have eliminated almost all battery operated toys from our home.  The only exceptions are a few of Jackson's tools.  I love it.  I see Little Man using his imagination more in his play.  He doesn't just sit in front of a toy (while it sings and moves) for 30 seconds and then move onto the next one.  He builds things and he acts out scenarios with his boats/cars/trucks...and he usually yells "Baby sissy NOOOOOOO" at some point because she's ruining his plans with her undying interest in everything he does.

I know my struggle to protect my children's imaginations and childhood doesn't end with fighting the toy battle.  If you really want to get me started, let's get into the ways some young girls dance and dress.  Or the scary Halloween costumes that stores sell for children not much older than Jackson.  Or the TV shows that some kids watch - even ones that are "children's" shows.

I don't want to shelter my children, I just want them to grow up with vivid imaginations and childlike innocence for as long as possible.  I don't want them to know about sex and looking sexy by the age of five.  I don't want them to expect a toy to do everything for them.  I don't want them to watch TV and play video games all day long.  I want them to play house and shop and school and dig in the dirt and run around outside playing all kinds of crazy games until well into their middle school years.  I want them to be kids while they are still kids.