Last weekend I took the kids to Toys R Us so they could make their wish lists for Santa. And with those lists in hand, I spent my Black Friday playing Santa online. I'm proud to say that my kids will be very pleased come Christmas morning.
But as excited as I am to see the excitement on children's faces, I can't help but wonder how much these toys are really going to be played with. You see, I keep meticulous records. I write down everything Santa brings each year as well as how much it cost Santa to produce them. Looking back at last year's gifts, I realize my children are hardly, if ever, still playing with those toys. Once coveted toys quickly became nothing but clutter.
The Diego train track I bought for Little C last year takes up prime real estate in her room when assembled, and even when it's not assembled, it fails to fit nicely into the storage it came with. She played with it a handful of times, and it is now in my "Garage Sale" tub in the attic. Huge Transformers Big C swore he couldn't live without now collect dust in his closet. Despite this, I still spent my Black Friday buying Little C a collection of My Littlest Pet Shops that I will likely step on whenever I walk into her room and Big C a Bakugan character that comes with a million tiny pieces that I'll likely find hidden under his bed.
To add insult to injury, popular toys now require technology. Big C has a Tag Reader, which I think is a fantastic concept. A large pen reads books, initiates text-related games, animates illustrations, and even tracks your child's usage. However, all of this requires internet downloads and yet another USB cord added to all the other electronic cords entangled in a drawer in my family room. And sadly, after about a year of buying books exclusive to that system, downloading them to the reader, and replacing countless batteries, the Tag Reader now sits untouched on his bookshelf. But despite this, I somehow found myself purchasing a Tag Junior Reader for Little C, for which that process will soon begin all over again.
Children's toys these days make my head spin. Should I be buying Little C that Tag Reader or another electronic educational system? Should I feel guilty for not buying Big C that Nintendo DS that all his friends have or be proud that I bought him a Star Wars Science Kit with live creatures instead? Should I buy the kids a new game for the Wii we spent so much money on but rarely use or should I continue to buy them gifts like Play Doh and Lego sets that require active imaginations instead of a television?
I know I shouldn't stress too much now over my children's Christmas gifts because I know that 1 day soon they'll be asking for cell phones and iPads and whatever gadget is all the rage at that second. One day soon I'll be monitoring their text messages and apps instead of their Tag Reader progress and their science projects.
So for now, I'll continue to buy my kids all those toys that too soon end up in my garage sale pile. I'll embrace the clutter of Dora Play Doh sets and intricate Lego contraptions. I'll introduce Little C to her 1st USB cord and internet download. I'll help Big C with his science experiments and feed his sea creatures long after he's lost interest. But this all means something a little bit more. It means I can still eavesdrop on Little C playing Mommy with those Littlest Pet Shops and Big C having battles with his Bakugans. It means I can encourage Little C's desired independence with her Tag Reader and Big C's wish for more one-on-one time with me through the Star Wars Science Kit.
And when they're tired of that, I'll throw them on their new Tinkerbell scooter and big boy bike to get some fresh air and exercise!
What is Santa bringing your kids for Christmas this year?