How far should we take pretending?

breast milk dollOK just a quick one, I just came across the web site for the new ‘Breast Feeding Baby Doll’ by Berjuan dolls and I genuinely don’t know how I feel about it. On one hand our kids were both breast fed so it would be what a child in our family would be used to. However, my gut reaction is that the image of a wee girl pretending to breast feed looks a bit odd to me, almost like growing up too fast and the image of a wee boy doing so is even more peculiar (having to tell the wee guy that he’ll never be able to do that would also be a bit sad). Have a look at the web site and make your own decisions, I have to say it’s been handled fairly tactfully with flowers representing the ‘nipples’, plus the the wee apparatus that the girls put on to ‘feed’ their dolly doesn’t really resemble breasts as such. However, I can see this being a controversial toy and probably one with people at either end of the extreme and I’d love to hear people’s thoughts in the comments section, either here or on the Fun Junction facebook page. Thanks for reading, Cheers, John

Update: thought I’d add this poll to get an idea of what you guys think

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The Stress of crafts

crafts gone wrong

I have a confession to make: I don’t do crafts with my kids. It might be forgiveable if you consider that my boys are 4 and 2 but probably not, the truth is that the potential I find for various different kinds of stress in doing a craft activity with them makes me unlikely to even get started.

We sell a huge range of craft items in the shop and many of these would be great for using with smaller kids but I just can’t pluck up the courage to just go for it, and that sucks. I see loads of parents come into the shop with more kids and less time than I have and they look genuinely excited about popping open a craft kit and sitting down for an hour or so of engrossed activity with their kids. I’m envious of these mums (and I have to admit there are some dads in this category too) who seem to either lack, or to somehow be able to just ignore, that little voice inside that points out all the potential hazards for mess and waste in these activities.

I could say that it’s the potential for mess that bothers me most, but I’d be lying. While I’m happy to do housework and though it bothers me when the house isn’t in great shape I can’t really say I’m a clean freak or a neat freak of any form. One of the main things that I think bothers me about crafts is that they cost money and I know for a fact that my kids’ first attempts probably won’t go exactly according to the instructions, either leaving me with a disappointed four year old to console or just a pile of messed up cardboard/plaster/clay etc. and a couple of ambivalent kids. The end result in such instances will probably go in the bin. That potential for waste is a pretty big factor but I do have one other reason that I’m a little more ashamed about.

And here comes the deepest darkest part of why I don’t do crafts: the alternative to a failed craft activity is a successful one and when that happens we have a new addition to the household: another thing to find a space for in our little house. In order to make room for a new collection of craft ‘success stories’ some toys would have to go to make room, and I have to admit I prefer toys. A toy gets played with when they first get it and even if it’s not a huge hit there’s a good chance that it could become one in the future. For example Logan enjoyed trains and tractors but Alexander loves them: toys that got packed away and played with just every now and then are now staple every day items in our house.

The alternative of keeping a box of finished crafts that probably wont get looked at again for years (if ever) at the expense of losing a box of toys just doesn’t seem attractive to me. I don’t know if that makes me a horrible person (I hope not) but I just can’t get into crafts for pretty much that reason above all the others I’ve mentioned. What I’d love to know is what is it that makes crafts so appealing to other people. Customers look genuinely excited at the prospect of something that simply fills me with dread. I could try and blame it on my childhood but that probably wouldn’t work as I have distinct memories of doing quite a lot of crafty stuff with both of my parents when I was wee. The sad thing is, I just don’t understand the appeal, and I genuinely feel as though I’m missing something, and much worse I feel as though my kids will be missing out on something too, any thoughts/responses would be most welcome. Thanks for reading, Cheers, John

P.S. I should point out that I frequently bake with the boys. It’s always easy to find space for tasty tasty cakes!

Too ‘cool’ for school

snowday

After a fairly long (and busy) absence hello again. I’m looking out the window at the likely prospect of the snow staying for a few days and that got me wondering if they’ll close the schools next week. Parents tend to respond to this notion with more than a hint of trepidation, at the thought of trying to keep their wee scallywags amused over the next few days. Meanwhile teachers are perhaps breathing a sigh of relief, though the fact that they’ll may have to squeeze an extra few days worth of the curriculum into the coming term may diminish this relief somewhat.

However a whole pile of children are watching this snowfall with baited breath with an anticipation close to Christmas. They know that if this weather keeps up they may wake on Monday morning, reluctant to climb out of their cosy beds into the chilly day only to hear those magic words called out  by mum or dad ‘No school today’, at this they pull the covers back over and snuggle in, as they contemplate a day of sledging, snowball fights, watching TV, hours of uninterrupted play with some favourite toys (or computer games) or curling up with a good book.

That list is pretty close to my favourite things to do on a snow day as a child, it’s probably not that different from anyone else’s. But we change a lot when we grow up, this morning my wife (Hazel) and our boys were looking out the window full of excitement at the cascade of snow falling outside but all I could think about was that I would have to traipse through it to get to work. It’s just typical snow, not a heavy flurry, not a blizzard by any means, on my walk up to work I didn’t even notice the cold all that much but as adults heading of to work we seem inclined to have a moan about something which in years gone by filled us with hope and awe. I’m feeling a bit guilty now about being all ‘bah humbug’ about the snow. Hazel’s got the day off today, maybe that’s why it was so easy for her to enjoy it, if it’s still snowing tomorrow I’ll do my best to get into the snow day spirit.

Unfortunately, for now, it looks like I’ll be sitting in a quiet shop whilst everyone else heads out to enjoy a Saturday’s (perhaps slightly slushy) sledging. Maybe that’s what really bothers us: the fact that we don’t get to enjoy these things as much as adults. We have things we’re supposed to be doing at work and unlike a holiday where someone else may have filled-in for us, a snow day more often than not just means a back-log of work, or at the very least we might get out of the swing of things. This responsibility and awareness of things that need done is probably the origin of the dark cloud of humbuggishness which follows adults around as the snow piles up. The other thing that may bother us is the notion that we may have to take time off to be with the kids whilst they’re off school, but aside from the prospect of lost wages, I find this worry a little harder to sympathise with, an extra bit of time with the kids isn’t a daunting prospect for me.

I live just down the road from my work so the chance of me getting snowed off work is pretty slim, but I’ve been there in the past with other jobs and I’ve experienced most of these anxieties at some point. Maybe those moments of worry were unfounded, the back-log will be there sure but for that little patch of time we’ve got the chance to be part of a snow day. The snow day will happen whether we are with it or against it, maybe if we try and remember just what we enjoyed about them in the first place it would be easier to take these days for what they are; guilty chilly little pleasures.

I always wonder what people think about these posts, for this one especially it would be nice to get some comments: What did you used to do with a snow day? Why do you think we moan so much about the snow as adults but sing its praises as children? What kind of things do you do to stop your kids getting bored when they’re stuck in the house all day? Anyway thanks for reading, hope to hear from some of you and enjoy the snow (if you can). (I’m off to play with the new teenage mutant ninja turtles figures that we just got into the shop today)