In my early twenties I had a conversation with an American comedian and friend, Aye Jaye about his children. We discussed understanding the play value of toys. I recalled it at the weekend whilst I was out with my boys.
With 30 minutes left untill pick up time, I found that we, just having had lunch, were waiting with nothing to do. I looked around and the plethora of pound shops ( “Poundland” or “Everything 99p”) gave me an idea. I gave each of my son’s £1 and sent them off with the simple instruction that they should find something to do for the next half hour.
This led to 10 minutes of pondering and discussion about cheap toys designed to look like Power Rangers or Transformers (which had no instructions – as my eldest pointed out), to colouring sets and activity books. Both boys trying to work out if they would play with the toy after today and how long it would last.
In the end they choose a A5 drawing pad and a spinning toy set. When they played with the spinning toy set they realised it was cheaply made and hard to use. My son deemed it okay for 20 to 30 minutes but no good after that. The other was saying how he had only used a sheet of paper and the other 49 would do for other activities when he got home.
The aim was to fill the time but the real result was that I had started to teach my children about play value and looking at the value of toys or items they might want to buy, getting them to see beyond packing and marketing. Then I saw something that I thought summed it up…
“Don’t teach a child to want to be rich, teach them to want to be happy. Then when they grow up they will see the value in things not just the price!”
Till next week
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