The boys have yards of train tracks and plenty of train cars to go with them. They have dozens of blocks — some with capital letters, some with lowercase, some with Chinese characters. They have balls of all sizes. Their car collection is as varied and diverse as any little boy could hope for (minus any motors, lights, and sounds, of course). There are crayons and markers scattered about the apartment and enough paper, stickers, and paint to cover an entire wall.
Their favorite toys bear a striking resemblance to common household objects. I know, for example, that if I am baking, I can count on my dog-and-frog oven mitts to be re-purposed as hand puppets and to find their way to the nether-reaches of the apartment.
The oversize pillows we found in the as-is section of IKEA have been used as sandwich bread (to make squirmy peanut butter and pickle sandwiches — where the pickle looks and sounds much more like a little boy than a cucumber), as a train conductor’s cabin on the couch-train, as lily pads for hopping frogs, and as landing pads for budding jumpers. I probably pick them up off the floor and put them back on the couch a dozen times a day.
The foam roller is a favorite, for sure. I can hardly get it out before a certain little person has his grubby little paws on it and is testing its stability, again, as a chair and as a belly-roller. Once it has proven itself sturdy enough to handle his 25 pounds, he’s more than happy to let my legs have their turn, too.
And you wouldn’t believe (okay, maybe you would) the time spent pushing the same buttons on the printer over and over and over. Push “Power,” a light goes on! Push “Copy,” a blank paper comes out! Push “Power,” a light goes off! Now let’s do it again! And again! And again!
I’m sure many of you are familiar with IKEA’s children’s dishware. The colorful plastic plates and cups and bowls seem to be ubiquitous in any house with children under the age of five. They may be marketed as objects to hold food, but my boys know better. So many possibilities with those plastic discs and shovels. Which is why, despite having only two children, it is rare that I can find even one of the five cups to give them a drink out of when they ask. And also why, “Go look under the couch,” is so commonly heard around our apartment at dinner time.
I like having lots of toys for the boys to play with. I don’t begrudge one block or ball its place in our apartment. And although I do sometimes wish that we had a little more space to spread them out and put them to use, I totally love that the boys don’t really need them. I love that they find toys in whatever is lying around and can re-purpose anything to suit their needs. They can have their hand puppets as much as they want. Just as long as I can borrow them for a second to take the bread out of the oven.
What are your kids’ favorite “toys”?