On the very few occasions that I have had to go to Toys R Us, I always walk out feeling assaulted by the noise of both the toys and the ads on the loudspeaker, the colorful injection molded plastic crap that passes as entertainment, the sexist, limiting marketing of toys to kids who are trying to figure out their place in the world, the screaming kids begging parents for trinkets that will break in two weeks and fill landfills for years, and the vacant defeated looks on the parents who are trying to buy the love of their kids.
I now have another reason to hate them.
I think that this author does a good job of pointing out that the problem is not with toys or with donating to kids in need. She makes her argument saying:
“I also find it [the ad] ill-informed, based on adults’ preconceived notions of what must be “fun” or “boring,” rather than on kids own sensibilities. Anyone who has spent much time with children who do get to go to the forest, and have free play with dirt, sticks, trees, and stumps, knows how much they love it.
Give them an experience in nature with a gifted educator who can show how exciting catching a water bug, or finding an earthworm, or trying to construct their own nest can be – as opposed to an actor deliberately trying to make nature “boring” – and you’ll see kids with shining eyes and an exhilarated sense of discovery.
They may not be screaming with the out-of-control abandon they exhibited at the mention of Toys “R” Us – even kids have learned when they’re supposed to be really excited. But I would argue that the joy they get from that natural experience is far deeper, more long-lasting, and will pay much greater dividends over their lifetime than any object they bring home from the toy store, which more than likely will be both broken and forgotten in a short time, another casualty of our throwaway culture.”
I agree wholeheartedly. I feel like in our family we have tried to make decisions that are consistent with the idea that kids like and want to spend time connected to nature. Not only moving to the country but I personally have spent a lot of time in the last several years working with our kids’ school and some local landscape architects to conceive, design, raise funds for and start to implement a natural playground for the new school. (If you have no idea what a natural playground is feel free to check out my pinterest inspiration board on the topic – it will give you a good idea.)
I know these actions will not change the world, but I feel like one must start somewhere. However, I find it so depressing that at the same time that there seem to be some increasing efforts to recognize the value of the natural world to our children’s lives that that there are corporations that are undermining these efforts to sell more stuff that will suck rather than feed our souls. Note I said “depressing, not “surprising”.