My grandson came to visit me today. I saw once again how often we get the wrong ideas about things, especially when it comes to the needs and wants of our children.
When my first grandchild was born my first thought was to go buy every toy known to man to give him. (I’m allowed to do that because it is in the job description of a grandma.) Then my common sense kicked in and reality hit. I knew I couldn’t afford to buy all those toys.
I felt like the little drummer boy in the Christmas song who only had his music to give to the Christ child. I couldn’t afford to give the grandkids much. I only had my love and my time to give them, unlike the their other grandparents and family members who could afford to give them all the “cool” toys.
I now know how foolish I was those many years ago to think and feel that way and I was reminded of it once again today. I opened my kitchen utensil drawer and David’s eyes about popped out with excitement. He didn’t know where to start. There were all kinds of great toys like the funnel, the sieve, or that weird plastic spinny thing! We ended up playing with the turkey baster. I filled a plastic bowl with water and, to make it more interesting, I added red food coloring to the water. We spent 30 minutes squeezing water in and out of the baster.
Then we got out the Chinese Checkers game and even though we don’t know how to play it yet we had more fun putting all the marbles in different designs on the board. Then, to top it all off, we went to “Nan’s” bank, got a free bag of popcorn (our favorite), a balloon and a red sucker. Could any little man have had a better day then that? I don’t think so.
As parents and grandparents, we worry about not being able to give our children or grandchildren “everything”. At times we get so busy and so focused on trying to give the children everything that we don’t have the strength left to give them the things they want and need the most: our time and love. These are very simple things but they’re also very meaningful.
To a child, everything is new and exciting. We need to remember that it doesn’t take much to make them happy– just you and them and a turkey baster! :) :)
Photo By: Katie
People have often commented to us on how happy & thrilled our children seem to be over the smallest “treat”. They even thank us for trips to the playground & a homemade cookie! I think too many people get into a contest trying to shower their kids with the most trendy toys, vacations, treats, etc. I agree that kids do not need these to be happy. If you appreciate the little things they will too. The most important thing to children is that they are loved,given attention & taken care of.
Just my 2 cents………..
I have 14 grandchildren and 12 greats, and their favorite gifts, they say, are my homemade cookies. I’m known as the G’ma who bakes the kind they like, and for giving hugs, and letting them come visit lots. A couple of grammas with whom I share these wonderful kids give big cash gifts or expensive outings that I can’t afford, but are often critical of their (our) grandkids or don’t spend time with them, or don’t let them know just how special they are. Love is one of the best gifts we can give our grandkids!
I keep trying to get this through to my husband, who wants to buy our son everything known to man, to our family’s detriment!
I love your blog, Tawra. Thanks for so many great ideas here and in Living on a Dime website.
My grandchildren also want to “Play cards” with Grammi. We started around age 2 with Concentration and Memory Games – kid’s cards found at garage sales. The oldest is now 8 and playing rummy and crazy rummy, knockknock, and grownup card games. They’d rather do that than see a video!
And even more than that, they like to ‘help’ in the kitchen cooking. My 7 year old granddaughter was fascinated with the food dehydrator and arranged all the carrot slices for me :) She thought it fun!
They also like to help in my garden, and one is learning to sew. And they love going fishing.
And I’m on the short length school field trip chaparone list- I can’t take a whole day off work, but I can take a couple hours for my grandchildren.(I have a family friendly boss!)
I think it is the Time given to them, and the Time enjoyed by them with an adult they love and who loves them that matters the most to them. And time is precious. I have a family legacy of memories and traditions to pass down to my grandchildren, and who knows how long I have to do it in!
I want to be a grandma just like you! My kids are still teenagers, and (hopefully) it will be a few years yet before I can live my dream of being a “Grammy”, but just today I was telling my husband that when we have grandkids, they are going to be spending LOTS of time at our house! I can hardly wait!!!
I can remember one of my girls playing for about 2 weeks straight with a cardboard box (she then moved on to the clothes basket) a friends daughter spending the whole time at my place playing with the bucket of pegs
Having been a school teacher prior to staying home to teach and raise my own children, I have often been “on the lookout” for the little treasures that bring amazement. There are so many wonderful collections that are right at our fingertips.
I remember when my kids were babies and toddlers that one of the favorite toys was an empty milk jug with clothespins. They would fill the milk jug with clothespins, dump them out, and start all over again. Hearing the “thump” of the clothespin in the bottom always brought a giggle.
We have a bucket of milk jug lids that are still being played with as the kids are getting older. We build with them, make designs, patterns, and use them as Math manipulatives as well. My boys have even figured out how to thump them on the floor with their fingers to play a game similar to marbles. They love the “lid bucket.”
With old newspaper or magazines, we play “Alphabet race.” Each person uses scissors to cut out each letter of the alphabet and glues them down in order. First person to complete his/her alphabet is the STAR! I help the youngest one to give him an advantage with the older siblings. My kids love it.
I love hearing what other families do to spend time with their children! Thanks for the opportunity to share on the blog.
Robin in CA
I was in Family Dollar a couple of weeks ago near the toy section and a mother had a little boy in her cart and she was talking to another woman standing near her. The mother told the other woman about how much her son loved to play with the kitchen gadgets etc, so I stood there wondering why she was wasting money buying toys? It seemed more to please herself than her son. He was happy without them. Toddlers like to play. Period. They don’t know the difference.
One day when my boys were fairly young 3 &1 years old. I was exhausted as we had done laundry at the laundramat and gotten groceries and went to the library all in one day.
I was trying to get the perishable stuff put away and left the groceries sitting on the floor in bags.
I finally stopped and saw that the two of them were using the cans and boxes and bags of macaroni all unopened to make bumpy roads for the cars they were playing with. The bags were soft spots where the cars could get stuck and the different sizes were bumps and they were playing dukes of hazzard. I took a break watching them and had a great excuse to sit and talk with my husband who was gone the week before and that was why the big day of chores.
One time I bought a big bag of those colourful sponges for cleaning and my youngest found them great for building blocks. They sort of clung together better and they were so colourful that they were never used for cleaning. He played with them for an entire year.
Children do not need gadgets someone came up with to make parents feel they need to buy them. What they need is imagination and freedom to explore things on their own.
Grizzly Bear Mom
My fondest memory of my dad is going with him to deliver food baskets to the poor. I looked in the basket and asked “Dad, why are we giving them books?” He replied “So their children have something to open for Christmas.” Then he said “Now let’s go to Mrs Larry’s house.” I asked, doesn’t she live in a big house in town with a fountain?” He replied “Yes but she is on a fixed income so we have to take care of her.” So we did that too. We built our own home so I remember working with him a lot. His heart so service, as a municipal employee, as a Sunday School Teacher and Superintendent caused me to serve in the military, as a Federal Government Leader, a Sunday School teacher and Superintendent. I don’t remember by parents buying us lots of stuff. I do remember them making time for us in their day even though I’m sure it was harder to do these things with me then it would have been to do them alone.
We are moving and downsizing, I told my grandkids that if they wanted any of our household things to let me know. Our eldest grandson and his intended asked for our good china. I told them to come over, pack it up and it was theirs.
While he was here, he found a set of green glass salt and pepper shakers and asked if he could take them. I said, “sure”! He was so thrilled. The expensive China service for 8 was nice, but the cheap Dime store salt and pepper shakers were the BEST! Go figure!
I know just what you mean Judy. My brother and I had an ugly old plastic water jug my mom kept in the fridge full of water for us to drink out of and save on dishes. When she told us to pick out things we wanted of hers the water jug was on the top of the list. We so often forget with our children and grandchildren it is the memories that mean the most to them and not the things themselves.
My mother purposely came with nothing most of the time. She would say the kids should be excited to see her, and not what she brought. She was right
This is maybe true in theory but the thing is when you love someone so much it is a natural desire to want to give to them gifts. That doesn’t mean we should get carried away with things and we really should do things either way in the extreme. I give my grand kids gifts all the time but the few times something has happened that I haven’t they are still just as excited to see me and don’t think anything about the fact that I didn’t bring them anything.
It really is more in the parents attitude and if they have showed and taught the children to be loving, caring and grateful.