Toys…

Mousey is nearly eleven months old now. She has never stepped on grass, nor has seen birds fly, nor insects crawl, hop, hide or fly. She has not sat outside for any length of time, to watch the shift and play of light, the effect of the breeze or wind on the lawn, the leaves on a tree or the moving clouds overhead.  Whenever she goes outside she rides backward in her carseat and sees a fast moving world as she is driven about from home to run shopping errands with her mother.

She has piles of stuffed animals, toys appropriate for her age, but they are all plush and plastic.  What she is most curious about is Snowy, the family cat, and she is forever on the lookout for opportunity to be near this ghostly white creature, to touch it and watch it. She has learned that the cat has a will of its own and will not tolerate her awkward ministrations.

She now has a toy cell phone. It has a musical ring tone and flashes lights much like a real cell phone when it is activated by a call.  Does a nearly eleven month old baby need a toy cell phone? I think she needs to go outside frequently and feel the grass under her feet and hands, experience the moving air flowing over her skin and through her hair, listen to the complex soundscape surrounding her, and see the interplay between the natural and built environment in which she will grow.

I know I am getting old and am expressing my wonder and, yes, my dismay with the fact that she has been born into a much more complex world, in which opportunity abounds, and yet in which so have limitations increased.  Many of the toys available to her, while providing an illusion of richness of experience, in fact prevent full engagement and don’t provide the occasions for developing discernment.

4 Responses to “Toys…”

  1. Michèle Says:

    I think children nowadays are suffering from the paranoia of their parents who are buying into media hysterics about the so-called dangers of the outside world…It’s a great shame…I’m glad I grew up in a world where I could roam outside all day long and live in trees and run through meadows…

  2. Enrique Says:

    Many thanks for the interesting posting. Even if Mousey is eleven months old and was born in a more complex world as you said, the magic is to discover and learn to be in both worlds. She should grow to adapt and live in the complex world but should never forget the importance of enjoying something “backward” like nature. Variety is always a good matter.

  3. suburbanlife Says:

    Michele – I echo your sentiments – there was something so satisfying in exploring the outdoors, even eating unripe fruit while perched in the branches of an apple tree, although that was also most instructive with uncomfortable results – and yes people are generally more fearful these days. Your own photos witness just how awed you are by what can be seen and experienced outdoors.. Thanks for commenting!

    Enrique – Thanks for your comment. I somehow doubt that teen-agers are text-messaging on their cell-phones information of a profound nature, such as the magical nature of their perceptions of the natural world, upon which we all so basically depend.

  4. Marsha J. O'Brien Says:

    “I think she needs to go outside frequently and feel the grass under her feet and hands, experience the moving air flowing over her skin and through her hair, listen to the complex sound scape surrounding her, and see the interplay between the natural and built environment in which she will grow.”

    Beautifully worded and I agree 100%. None of us need ALL of the “things” we are so attached to these days. They are lovely, convenient, provide information and access to new friends – but I think the majority of our human kind (at least in the states) have forgotten what really is beautiful and wonderful!

    Another thought. With the way trees are being cut and our disregard for nature itself, there may not be too much to see outside in the decades to come. I hope I am wrong.

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