Materialism: no escaping it in this country. In the classroom, it's a good idea to at least know a couple things that are "in" and cool to the kids. As I get "older" (*gasp*), some of the cool toy brands (Garbage Pail Kids, Cabbage Patches, Strawberry Shortcake) have been sadly replaced by things like Bratz, Kendamas, and the countless leave-little-to-the-imagination toys that compete for our kids' attention. Why do teachers need to be in the know? Making connections from a text to something they're familiar with makes learning new concepts a little easier.
At home, mainstream characters have invaded every single room of our two-story house.
After 10 birthday parties under our belts, our boys have accumulated I'm sure over a million toys. When our guests leave, the boys are high on stimulation overload, so we decided to not open every single gift at once. One or two toys a day is more than enough to satisfy their toy cravings. After a week, a pile of toys still sits unopened, and, to them, disregarded.
We truly are grateful for being in this position (aka first-world problems). We've been to our fair share of events, and we help them understand that gifts should have no strings attached--we don't expect anything in return, nor do we say a couple days later to a friend, "Who got you that?" knowing full well it was us. Let's appreciate that just the thought alone is worth way more than the gift itself.
With all these thoughtful gifts, we designated a "toy room" to keep some kind of order in the chaos that is: Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Transformers, Avengers, Power Rangers, Angry Birds, Yo Gabba, Beyblades, Bakugan, Dagadar, Ultraman, Lego, Lego Ninjago, Hot Wheels, Toy Story toys, Cars toys, music toys, dinosaurs, sports equipment... you name it! Wow, how can a kid ever get bored?
Well, after dutifully purging...donating...recycling... arranging and rearranging, where do the boys spend their time? In the dining room making a fort!
Pillows, blankets, chairs entertain them for hours, and I sit here thinking, "The poor toys! If the toys were on 'Toy Story,' they would end up at Sunnyside or in an attic. Do I donate more? E-bay? Craigslist? Garage sale?" I have no solution, and the more time passes, the more we run out of closet space.
When people ask what to buy them, yes, there are some fads that will pop out of their mouths that second, but reflecting on what makes them truly happy, someone may as well give them a rock and they'll find something to do with it. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but using imagination helps bury "boys will be boys."