No, this is not a Hollywood teen romance…
As if navigating the world of “crappy trinket toys for all” wasn’t hard enough, Scholastic Books insists on sneaking them onto book orders. Thanks to this advertising line, with direct access to school children under the guise of fundraising for our school (or maybe they get books, or something, doesn’t matter), we now own such treasures as a 2″ tall plastic Diego complete with a jaguar Hallowe’en costume, a bracelet making kit that is stored in a book-like package, and God knows what else.
I was a weaker woman then, convinced that I should foster their excitement about book orders – ha! Kids love sitting down with the order sheet and circling everything that catches their eyes; they could be encyclopedias and they’d be happy. No trinkety lures necessary. A hardened mom now, we order books from book order sheets, not toys.
It gets worse, as I’m sure you knew it would.
You know that pressure to buy them stuff? You could be in the auto department at Canadian Tire, and they’d be angling for a pair windshield wiper blades, convincing you they would help wash the car if those blades were to come home. They like shiny new things (who doesn’t?), and I’m happy to buy them shiney new books, but the toys (and wiper blades!) can stay in the warehouse.
The two sentences in my repertoire that keep cheap toys at bay:
“Put it on your list!”
“In lieu of a gift, a donation will allow her to select one group gift and donate the remainder to an organization of her choosing.”
The first refers to the running wish list we keep for whichever event is due next (Christmas or birthday). I keep an electronic version on my desktop to track which requests stick and which ones fall by the wayside.
The second, has a double benefit. My kids are older, and $20 doesn’t go very far anymore, so they get to pool some money together and buy more interesting, quality toys. Also, it presents an opportunity to talk about the ubiquitous and diverse range of need that surrounds us, and our good fortune is highlighted. (The kids typically donate to Camp Trillium, a camp in Ontario for kids living with cancer. I think it’s because learning they can help in an uplifting way is powerful.)
Hot tip! Purchasing “eco” toys for older kids is more difficult given the inevitable competition with screens. Stick with projects, kits, or gear that bring out the budding artist, scientist, athlete, musician, or engineer. Better yet, give them gift certificates for specialized camps or classes. Even the wannabe veterinarian can bulk up on experience through child and youth programs at some SPCA sites. And, if in the end, screens win, buy second-hand video games!
Read more tips, that just might work, here.
Live within limits without limiting life
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