Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's The Simple Stuff That Brings The Most Fun

The kids have been opening the birthday presents on average of one a night -- give or take, here or there: I make them take a night off from presents if they've been especially difficult.

It's kind of like Hanukkah all over again.

But they're getting jaded anyway. Sometimes they open a gift and are initially disappointed, but on another day, they can't wait to play with the thing they rejected the night before.

On a rainy Saturday, we opened the box of "science experiments," and played with test tubes, pipettes, and colored baking soda tablets that dissolved really fast in hot water, slower in cold, and created really cool zones of color when put into milk on a dinner plate.

I've helped them put together puzzles and snap-together cars, squeeze plastic dresses on tiny plastic dolls (and tried to keep track of all the tiny parts, from miniature tools to wee doll shoes that have come into our lives since the birthday party).

We've read books, made necklaces with beads, had tea parties.

But perhaps the most exuberant moment of all came from a spray bottle of sculpting soap for the bath.
The stuff shot out of the bottle like a thicker version of silly string, or more malleable shaving cream, and they squealed with delight. The squeals have continued every time we've pulled the stuff out. I didn't even know such stuff existed, but boy, is it on my shopping list now.

Tonight I'm hoping to show them the simple pleasure of a game of CANDYLAND. And the trove of new toys and games hasn't quite yet been exhausted, so I look forward to doling out the last few on school nights when I get the kids home and desperately need to keep them amused but self-contained while I get dinner ready.

I do worry they're getting spoiled and used to way too much stuff. But birthdays do only come once a year, and the supply of gifts IS going to run out. I'm hoping they'll rediscover their older toys and games and books, and that I can clear out some stuff to donate or give to friends with younger kids than mine, so we don't end up with an apartment overloaded with stuff ... and more importantly, with spoiled rotten kids.

But for the moment -- this moment in particular, when my daughter is off playing with some of her new stuff, quite content to let me blog away in another room -- I'm grateful to all the friends and family who gave the kids all this stuff.

When they're older, we can do the "no gifts, please" thing, or better yet, get the kids to donate to charity themselves.

But for now, it's not so bad to have some gifts around, to let my four-year-olds give me the gift of some me time -- and for me to enjoy rediscovering some simple pleasures and classic toys and games while introducing the kids to things I loved too.
One thing I've noticed, though, is that the simplest gifts can be more fun than the most elaborate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, the bane of our mom existence -- birthday parties. At least they are for me. I dislike so many aspects of them. But that's for another post.

Hey I'm a late-blooming mom, too! I have a 9-year-old and an about-to-be-6-year-old-in-two-weeks. And yes, that means I am putting on a birthday party. Ugh.

But I'm also a mom in West LA and a blogger -- and with so many things in common -- including a degree from Brown -- it would be very cool to get together sometime!

You can find me at

And congrats on having 4-year-olds!