Ever watch a little child when they've been given a wrapped gift? They turn it upside down and examine all the parts of the wrapping. They shake it and listen to the sounds made. They ooh and aah about how big the box is, how heavy it is. They play with the bows. They seem to do everything but open the gift. For a little child the wrapping IS the gift, or so it seems. They eventually do get around to opening the gift. And then they go back to playing with the wrapping paper, finding a lot of fun in ripping the paper into tiny shreds.
A whole lot of those Chanukah gifts that are being given to children are going to find themselves tucked up somewhere on a shelf in fairly short time. Too many of these gifts lack that something that will keep a child interested over the long haul, will keep them coming back again and again. With many of these gifts, parents and other givers might have done as well to simply wrap up a box with attractive paper and leave it empty.
I remember two occasions when the "wrapping" saved my sanity. Bad weather, no way to go out and two grumpy little girls who really needed something to do other than cheppe at their mother. So I handed them a roll of toilet paper. It was fascinating to watch them carefully take apart that roll, sheet by sheet. Two hours of perfect contentment on their part. On another occasion I gave them a supersized box of tissues and again, happiness for the cost of a few sheets of paper.
We might want to remember that it isn't the cost of a gift that is the most important quality. It's time to stop worrying that we spent too little.
I recently bought 2 new toys to keep in the house for when my grandchildren come, but the empty Kix cereal box was still the favorite choice :)
(In the same vein, my daughter in law quotes her mother as saying, "If I have a kitchen cabinet, who needs a toy chest ...")
General rule of children's gifts: the more money spent on the gift, the more the children will prefer playing with the box it came in.
Of course, back in my day, I was the easiest kid to shop for: all anyone had to do was check with my parents to see which Hardy Boy books I didn't yet have... :)
Please tell me that you've saved your collections for your boys....
I am the book mom/aunt not the toy buying mom/aunt. Yes, there are people who sincerely don't believe that books constitute a gift. I remember once getting a comment re the books that they are thrown out money--a child reads them once and then they are finished. Huh? Bet you read those Hardy Boys books a lot more than once.
The greatest toy ever created is the tall round box that regular Quaker oatmeal comes in. You can bang on it for just about forever and it can become a treasure chest to hold other little treaures like all my funny shaped cookie cutters that the kids would abscond with. Your machatainista is a wise woman.
This even holds true for older children.
I can still vividly recall the summer that I spent building an entire intricately detailed "town" out of various cereal/oatmeal/food boxes.
A few wooden spoons and a couple of pots...What kid wouldn't have a great time? We would also take all my moms or grandmothers plastic containers and build towers and cities with them. I wonder if our kids, with all the expensive toys, will remember back to when they were young and think of how and what they played with with the kind of smiles we do.
Cute story here. My sil is very creative and she wraps her packages very artistically. One of my nieces fell in love with the wrapping and refused to let anyone open the package because it would ruin her beautiful gift. My sil had to go home and recreate the wrapping on an empty box to give to this niece so we could get the gift out of the first one. She really didn't look at what was in the box because she preferred the wrapping.
My daughter, between the ages of 18 months and 3 years, played exclusively with ziploc bags. Every few weeks I'd give her several fresh ones, and she'd troll the house for the next few days, collecting stuff to put in each one (corks, yogurt lids, "menchies", etc.) She spent hours playing elaborate games with the stuff, and rearranging and sorting the material. Today (she's now nearly 10) she is the most self-entertaining of my children and almost never tells me she is bored. (she's also incredibly organized).
I would, indeed, have saved them; however, my ever-vigilant mother routinely went on shelf-clearing sprees, and unfortunately, my collection is no more (we will not even discuss the loss of my complete Grimm Fairy Tales and the complete collection of James Blish Star Trek series; it is far too painful a memory). The Lovely Wife(tm), on the other hand, has held on to every book from her childhood, which means that I had best get my boys hooked on Terry Pratchett ASAP, or they'll wind up reading the complete works of Judy Blume... *shudder*
Little kids still have great imaginations. They see all kinds of possibilities in those wrapped boxes and all kinds of uses for the wrapping and ribbons. It's a real shame when they hit the stage where the inside of the box is all that matters.
This is so weird. “Spoil” you? That would never even enter my mind!
Post a Comment