Since November is the month to be thankful for all the great things in our lives, I thought I would play along. Naturally, I’m thankful every day for my amazing family and my two sweet and talented children, the roof over our heads and food on our table, but I’m going to share something else I’m thankful for that is not nearly as obvious.
What I’m thankful for is the kind of toys my children are drawn to. I see those kids who turn their noses up at “baby toys” and are constantly playing with toys that are far too old for them and I am thankful for kids who still love baby dolls, singing lullabies, and imaginative play.
They have their whole lives to be interested in video games, electronics, and makeup. I’d much rather they spend their time rocking their babies, making fake baby food, and taking them on long nature walks. This is why we’ve always avoided the large chain toys stores with their scantily clad fashion dolls and realistic-looking weapons and opted for neighborhood toy stores with a wall of Corolle dolls instead.
Sometimes it’s about the dolls, other times it’s all about the accessories. Most of the time, it’s about both.
I love watching their eyes light up with each new imagined story, or when I see them treating their dolls as if they are true friends and real life babies, but most of all, I love the sweetness that comes out when they play babies together. Whereas too much TV can make my kids grumpy little messes, doll play has the opposite effect and they always seem happier when they’ve had open-ended play with their Corolle dolls. Playing with dolls infuses understanding and empathy that seeps into many aspects of their interactions with others, whether it’s relationships with parents, siblings, cousins, friends, or even people they just meet. The result is that they are much more in tune with others in ways that are easily noticeable, such as pointing out when they think someone is having a rough day, or running to help if they see someone get hurt, or just going out of their way to put smiles on the faces of those they meet.
Now, it isn’t that I want to shelter my kids, I just want them to enjoy childhood as long as possible. You can’t get the innocence and sweetness of childhood back once it’s gone, and it already feels like this window is getting smaller and smaller with kids as a whole. It’s my job as a parent to give my children a deep well of happiness that they can draw upon during stressful and sad times in their life, and letting them just be kids is an important part of that.