As I’ve written about many times before, my little family and I strive to live a pretty simple life. Our home is a two-bedroom apartment in the middle of downtown Chicago, so space demands that we don’t go overboard with stuff. And, because our budget is rather rigid, reality dictates that we can’t afford to go overboard with stuff. I love keeping things simple, though, so I find great joy in the challenges and rewards that come along with an existence that doesn’t put a premium on stuff.
Like most little boys, my Mack loves trains. Last fall, on the days when Evie was in school, Mack and I spent hours on the floor playing together with his train set. Consisting of just a few wooden tracks, a few train cars and a couple accessories, it is simple and humble. He was so joyful and happy when we played trains, so for Christmas we decided that Santa would splurge on a proper train table with lots of tracks and trains and enough accessories to keep a nearly 2 year old entertained for days.
Well, that’s what we thought…
Turns out, our precious boy actually prefers the smaller set! Because he’s still a little guy, the big train set is a bit overwhelming for him. Plus, it is so defined in its design and purpose that I think it actually inhibits his creativity. He can easily handle the pieces to the smaller set, setting it up however and wherever he likes. He sometimes uses the train table to stage the little set, but very rarely does the big set come out of its storage drawer. And, when I do take the time to set up the big set he just demolishes it in a few minutes anyway!
I think as a culture we feel the need to overindulge kids. I don’t want to deprive my children of anything, but I also don’t think giving them more more MORE is the right path. We are so preoccupied with making memories for them that we don’t give them the opportunity to make memories for themselves. I’ve heard every mother jokingly lament that her child prefers the box a gift came in to the actual gift itself. I think there is great wisdom in that observation – kids don’t need a ton of stuff to keep their minds occupied and energized. Sometimes the simplest things in life provide the most enjoyment – for young and old alike!
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