What Is The One Gift That My Children Want More Than Anything Else?

When I buy my children bubble wands, they carry out legendary sword fights; dueling bubbles, battling blades.  When their warrior muscles grow weak, they shed their armor and transform into mild mannered scientists.  They spread their bubble mixture across the grass and sand, blending, mixing and creating potions filled with magic and wonder.

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When I buy my children sandbox toys, they set them aside in favour of rocks and sticks; the most authentic and trustworthy of childhood tools.  Their shoes are their buckets, their hands are ready scoops.  They are the builders and masons of the future.

When I buy my children expensive toys, they quietly tuck them away in order to make room for the boxes that they came in.  They discuss building plans and architectural style in earnest.  They become engineers, planning, designing and constructing the bridges, towers and highways of tomorrow.

If I give my children mud, they will build a majestic castle.  With water, they will create a magnificent waterfall.  If I give my children nature, they will discover adventure, independence, confidence and a chance at the kind of  childhood that will shape them into creative, grounded people.  If I give my children the time and freedom to play, to get bored, and to be themselves, they will explore, create, plan and invent.  Their energy is boundless; their imagination is inspiring.  They are children, and this is what they want most of all.  How could I give them anything less?

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33 thoughts on “What Is The One Gift That My Children Want More Than Anything Else?

  1. Love this! My children are like this, too! I just threw away a box they have been playing with for months because it’s all saggy and ripping. They were devastated. I guess it’s time to order a new expensive toy that they can put aside to play with the box instead. 🙂

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    1. I had a feeling your kids might be like this too! 🙂 Throwing boxes away is a huge struggle here. Even if we do it under the cover of darkness, they are old enough now to realize what we have done!!

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  2. Love this! I love how you wrote this – I find the same wonder and amazment when I am able to give my kids a blank slate in different environments and allow them to be kids and create. And I agree, it’s those opportunities that allow them to be KIDS! Great post!

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    1. Thanks!
      I love watching my kids play. They so rarely use toys, because their imaginations are way more exciting! That is how I remember playing when I was a kid too. 🙂

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  3. Our grand kids visit for a week each summer. They love boxes, catching fireflies, playing in water, and all the things I remember from my childhood. Your article reminded me we don’t need to take them places or try to find toys. We’re surrounded by great playthings!

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    1. Thank you!
      I feel like I wouldn’t be doing my children any favours by buying them tablets and video games. I would be robbing them of their childhood!

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  4. This is absolutely true. There is nothing more magnificent for a child’s imagination than a blank canvas. My brother and I loved giant empty appliance boxes and that legacy continued with my boys. My oldest once spent an entire month sleeping in an appliance box during his “goth” phase. He also longed for a real He Man castle but we couldn’t afford it. I made him one from a large box, complete with a working drawbridge. He played with it endlessly. At Christmas when I saved enough for the real thing, he played with it for one day but got frustrted that the pieces came apart and nothing worked right. Lesson learned for Mom. Their favorite thing? Homemade tents with their small toys and food rations. If you build it they will come..

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    1. Those are great memories! Children have so much more fun with simpler things, because their imaginations are way more interesting than any toy ever could be. I can remember when I was about 9 years old, I made a pinball machine out of a huge piece of cardboard. I glued all kinds of obstacles to it, added tunnels and holes), and my hands were the flippers to hit the ball. Best toy ever!! 😉

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  5. I read an article by Victoria Parody last week and she touches on this also. I took my son’s tablet a week ago as an experiment, since then he’s been playing outside, creating traffic jams with his cars and even watching animal planet. I will give it back to him periodically, but I definitely want to keep encouraging him to get creative.

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    1. It’s amazing how easily and thoroughly kids can lose themselves in technology, but it is equally amazing how quickly they can get back in touch with nature with technology isn’t around as a distraction. I think that also applies to a lot of adults. 😉
      Thanks for reading! 🙂

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  6. YESZSSSS. Can’t like this enough! What they do when left to their own devices is sensational, especially outside. I wish more people remembered this truth and unplugged their kids so they could strengthen their imaginations! The fact that your kids default to these behaviors is beautiful! They already know what’s important.

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