A couple weeks ago, we invited a few friends over for dinner. And as they walked in the door, our breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, cloth-diapering, sustainable gardening, worldschooling, peaceful parenting friends?
Asked: “But where are your daughter’s toys?”
My daughter, Charlotte, is ten months old and the fact of the matter is that we have purchased exactly one toy for her. One. We bought a wood alphabet puzzle.
Which, for the record, she does not give a rat’s ass about. Why play with a wood alphabet puzzle when you could gnaw on your father’s face? Or blow raspberries on your mother’s belly? Or lick the floor?
We have other toys, of course. My husband sanded and dyed (using food coloring) a small set of . Friends and family alike have given her several adorable plush animals. Upon her birth, my daughter was given a couple rattles and a few baby-size plastic playthings. We keep a bowl filled with two sets of foam letters. Her grandparents keep an entire box of toys from my childhood for her to play with at their house. But that’s about it.
The rest of the toys? The “congratulations on your child’s birth, here, HAVE A DOLL” and the “happy holidays, here, HAVE A NOISE-MAKER” toys? Well. We donated them to Goodwill. In total, my husband and I have donated more of Charlotte’s toys than we’ve kept.
It’s not that we’re ungrateful. It’s not that we hold a grudge against corporate mass-production or that we are exceedingly concerned about . It’s just, how to put this, SHE IS TEN MONTHS OLD. She wants to bang the pots she sees us cook with. She wants to explore the spoons she sees us eat with. She wants to “help” us load the dishwasher and unload the laundry. She wants to duck behind furniture and pop out, playing peek-a-boo. She wants to crawl around the house as we threaten to catch her and make great thudding sounds in the hallway behind her.
In essence, MY DAUGHTER WANTS TO PLAY WITH US.
So I explained that to our friends. Um, I told them, this is all she has. Because she likes to play with us, to watch our facial expressions, to tug our hair, to pinch our arms, to explore the tools we use in her presence every day, to laugh as we tirelessly interact with her.
“Does it seem cruel,” I asked, feeling slightly inadequate, “that WE ARE HER TOYS?”
I guess not. Two days ago, our friends called us up. Where is the nearest Goodwill?, they asked. They have a few dozen boxes of toys to donate.