I grew up with a very modest childhood.
Believe me, that’s not meant to be an insult. Quite simply my parents and grandparents understood the importance of sharing their time with my sister and me.
Of creating memorable experiences rather than buying us an abundance of toys which ultimately lost their value almost as soon as they were taken out of the box.
For some reading this post, you might assume I grew up deprived that my modest childhood wasn’t filled with every toy imaginable. I suppose it does contradict the parenting of today where toys and “things” seem to define one’s childhood.
But a study out of Germany, echoed by a recent study by the University of Toledo, makes for some interesting contrasts.
In a German kindergarten class, all the toys were removed for a three-month span of time.
The only thing left in the classroom were the children’s desks, chairs and blankets to play with. As you can imagine, on the first day they were bored to tears. But on the second day they got creative.
“They started building forts, turning their desks into trains, and performing circuses and plays.” The absence of toys didn’t prevent the children from enjoying themselves – in many ways it enhanced it.
In Natasa Pantovic Nuit’s book Conscious Parenting: Mindful Living Course for Parents, she says, “Children have deep devotion to life and this devotion is beautifully expressed through the free play. Objects of play should be as simple as possible, to allow the power of imagination to flourish. Buying ‘perfect’, expensive toys, rob the children of an ability to see beauty in a stone or a shell.”
There’s something wonderful about watching a child spend countless hours playing with a cardboard box and markers, running and jumping around the backyard pretending to have superhero powers or building a tent out of sheets and pillows on the bedroom floor.
It shows imagination, creativity and above all else the understanding that life is not about the “things” you have but the experiences you create in your heart and mind.
An invaluable lesson for both children and adults alike.