During a recent visit to a toy store looking for the perfect gift for a child, the insight I received gave me a very rude awakening.
A child is born with all kinds of gifts tucked right in there with the cute little smile and the tiny toes and fingers. There is creativity, inspiration, imagination, and fun. It is all right there - just waiting to be encouraged, and allowed to grow and mature. What really happens when family and friends lavish gifts of the latest toy trends and gift ideas that toy manufacturers insist are the "in" thing? These precious and fleeting gifts are not nurtured and give the "food" they need to become the basis for future careers, jobs, and lifestyles. Instead, they allow the child to be a bystander and "watch the world go by" - but not become a "mover and shaker" of what is going on. In other words, the script, cast, and everything in between has been scheduled, programmed, and packed - all in one box.
Children are the future of each and every one of us - they will be the doctors, lawyers, judges, politicians, cooks, clerks, parents, citizens, etc. No one is so isolated that they will not be affected by the decisions and actions of these children when they become adults. You can run, but you can't hide from what the future will bring - and from those who will bring it about - today's children.
While a child may whine and cry for the very latest in what the ads show as the "craze" of the times, you are the purchaser, or the main ingredient in the child oy experience. Maybe making a total about-fact is not a reasonable choice for you and your child, but seek out a few alternatives. If you buy a "pre-programmed" action figure, vehicle, or play set, offset it with a few "standard" items. Lincoln logs can still fascinate, art sets (whether clay, paint, or pencil) can nudge that creativity, or games that allow the child to think, react, and plan. Books, craft kits and building blocks of all sizes, shapes, and forms, give hours of pleasure and allow the child to become the "programmer", not the "bystander."
With the Holidays coming on in a hurry, think about the "fleeting gifts" that will go away if they are not given a chance to sprout, grow, and blossom. Look for ways to allow your child to expand their imaginations and interact with their playthings - create backgrounds, situatins, and results.
While the world rushes by with all kinds of things money can buy for your child, don't rush them right out of their childhood. Allow them the fun, freedom, and fascination that breeds healthy, happy, and successful adults.
Those few precious years are just that-precious. They cannot be retrieved or erased - only encouraged, motivated, and celebrated. This holiday season, watch a child grow and become all he/she was intended to be and become a part of the future - a future for each and every one of us.
©Arleen M. Kaptur 2003 October
About the Author
Arleen Kaptur has written numerous books and articles.
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