Of play and imagination
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
Children don't always need toys with directed play. Upon noticing Thing Two and The Toddler playing 'shops' I dutifully went and bought them some play money seeing as they were using Octons as substitute money. What I failed to realise is they were happy using the Octons because in their mind it was money. What happened to the money I bought? It never got used.
When I was a child I loved playing with dolls, especially 'baby' dolls. Naturally I wanted one of the new ones that cried and pissed etc. It was the least played with doll I ever owned. It wasn't fun having the the toy direct my play (not to mention it was tremendously ugly too).
Imagination isn't merely the act of playing, it's the creation of play.
Just because a child is obsessed with putting pretend fires out with random objects as substitute hoses, doesn't mean they're in need of a play hose. They're not lacking a toy, they're creatively making one.
Through providing a toy with an obvious usage and purpose we're inadvertently sending the message that the act of imagining something was something else is incorrect. We think by providing something we're helping when actually, we're not.
That's not to say new toys won't be appreciated or played with. The Toddler adores his ride-on fire engine, even if he does use it as a crane and a rescue truck, yet he still runs up to Thing Ones room and pretends his desk and chair is a fire engine. He has multiple toy phones yet still prefers to pretend his hand is one half the time.
Often the most obvious toys are the ones that become boring the quickest.