Thursday, April 10, 2008

Things My Kids Need - and Things They Don't

I was astounded when, passing through an aisle of baby sneakers, my 20-month-old looked down at her old, dirty, worn sneakers and said, “Bleah!”

We all want stuff, but how much of it is truly necessary for a child to grow up feeling nurtured? My kids know what sorts of things I will or will not buy for them, and even self-edit their Christmas and Birthday wish lists accordingly.

This is my top ten list of Things My Kids Need:
1. Good Food
2. Fresh Air
3. Exercise
4. Good Books
5. Paper
6. Writing and Art Instruments of all kinds
7. Balls of all shapes and sizes
8. Blocks of all shapes and sizes
9. Dolls and/or stuffed animals
10. Wheels (bikes, skates, etc., that are non-motorized)

Now, in my opinion, this is my top ten list of things my kids don’t need. I am not saying it is bad to have any of these things, or that my kids don’t have any of these things – just that they are not necessary for proper growth and development.

1. Designer Labels
2. Video Games
3. Motorized toys
4. More than one organized activity or sport
5. Television
6. Internet
7. Junk Food
8. Large House
9. Large Car
10. Jewelry

Today I accidentally uncovered a rabbit burrow while raking leaves. At first I thought they were mice, but the children quickly pointed out that they were bunnies. Four quickly scampered away. It appeared to have been their first time out, and they did not know what to do. Neither did I.

Were they supposed to be away from the nest? Would the mother rabbit be upset that I had disturbed her burrow? Was Mommy even around anymore? I took the plastic rake and gently scooped up the four bunnies, put them back in the burrow, and recovered the hole. My oldest daughter is still upset that we would not let her keep the wild bunnies.

It was great excitement for all, something that we might have missed, had we been too busy with things on my second list. Kids need time to be creative and use their imaginations, and silence to take in the wonder of nature.

Painting above:
"La maison de l'Artiste à Argenteuil"
1873 Claude Monet


Angie said...

Great lists, though I will have to admit to my kids having more than a few of the second list.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

We fortunate Americans do tend to have most of the things on my second list. The mistake is in thinking that they are necessities, thus (1) artificially inflating the estimated "costs of raising a child"; and (2) raising children that value things over people. It is fine to have nice things, as long as we teach our children what our true priorities are.

angelmeg said...

In our old house we had a large Rabbit Warren somewhere on the property and the kids would get very excited and yell "bunny alert!" whenever they spied rabits scampering through the back yard.

We have been in the new house for nearly ten years, out here we have deer, racoons, chipmunks (one that got in the house -- that was fun!) all manner of birds and bugs. We even had our very own groundhog for years and years (we don't see him/her anymore, sadly) The kids love the fact that you never know what you might see in the yard.