We could have gone in many different directions for the content of this post with a title like that, but let’s keep it clean, folks. I’m here today to talk about the importance of actually playing with toys. You may be thinking to yourself, “But Katie, what else would you do with toys?” Let me explain.
I grew up with a single mom who worked her ass off. Now, as a single mom myself, I look back and have far fewer questions about the times she went to her room and closed the door because she “just needed a minute.” As I got older and had a better understanding of how thin she was stretched, I always wanted to help her. I did the laundry, washed dishes, cleaned my room, and made my bed religiously. And, crushing my role as mini-mom, I harassed my younger brother to do the same.
All of that to say, my OCD and need for organization developed at an early age, so when I got new toys, the last thing that I wanted to do was rip open the boxes and make a big mess. Now don’t get me wrong, I’d play with some. But it was always in a very orderly and organized fashion.
With Barbies and dolls, I always felt like I was “getting ready” to play. Everything had to be perfect, and toys did not cross over. Barbies didn’t play with Jem, and parts and pieces from the Barbie Ice Cream Shop certainly didn’t cross over to mix in any way with stuff from the Barbie T-Shirt Shop. What kind of anarchy would that have been?
I spent so much time setting everything up and preserving stuff that came with the toys, that I forgot to actually play with them. With the way that I hoarded the rock salt that came with the Barbie Ice Cream Shop, you’d think I was the only 7-year-old in 1989 who grew up in the Great Depression. I think I only actually made ice cream in that thing one time.
And then one day, I was too old to play with any of it. Closets were cleaned, piles were made, all of it was donated or given away. My feeling was, “Aw, I always meant to…” But I was too busy growing up too fast to just play and be a kid.
Cut to present day, with my 6- and 4-year-old girls. I noticed my 6-year-old getting some of these same tendencies when she didn’t want to “waste” the bath bombs that came with her Barbie Spa this Christmas. Um… HELL. NO. I decided right then and there that I will be damned if this kid isn’t a KID. So, I kindly explained to her that the Barbie Spa packets will not age like fine wine or cured ham and that they are there for us to use and have fun!
We ripped open that bath bomb, took the Barbie Spa outside on the patio, filled up the tub, drenched all the Barbies, ruined their hair, did 45 outfit changes, threw in some LOL and OMG Dolls (complete anarchy), and ended up with a Barbie Spa / Dog Walker / Restaurant situation. They loved it, and so did I.
They ask me to play Barbie or LOL or LEGOs all of the time, and these always end up being our favorite times together. I am currently staring at the contents of both of their closets that they’ve hung on the stairwell to play “boutique,” and while I am continuously exhausted cleaning up their playfests — the OCD is still strong — I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Except maybe a waffle cone from the Barbie Ice Cream Shop.