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What I Learned From My Son’s Toys

SAMANTHA DELLINGER, Smart Mama

Do you know where I could rent a bulldozer?

I need one for the weekend. And it needs to fit through my front door and up a flight of stairs.

See, I have lost the battle of cleaning my 5-year-old’s room. Well, actually I gave up. And I don’t give up easily.

But it’s not my son’s fault. It’s because he has over-indulgent parents.

Yes, my husband and I are the reason that I have spent countless hours picking up toys. Vincent does help clean his room, but we are running out of space to store his toys.

William and I are the enablers.

It seems we can’t help ourselves when it comes to giving into our son’s wants. Whether it’s letting him keep the toy from a fast-food meal or buying him a toy gun from the dollar store. (It’s only a dollar, right?)

But, those dollars and cheap toys add up fast and empty our wallets even faster.

Now we’re the ones paying the price for our lack of saying “no.”

Now, I am left with three challenges: cleaning Vincent’s room, teaching him the value of enjoying what he has and not what he wants, and learning not to give in to buying something no matter how cheap it is.

Cleaning Vincent’s room won’t be so bad, especially when that bulldozer shows up at my front door.

It’s the other two challenges that are going to take some effort.

Teaching Vincent to enjoy what he has might be tough, because it’s hard for a 5-year-old to appreciate all the toys he has when there are so many other toys out there. But it’s a lesson he needs to learn, so he can make better decisions, based on his needs not his wants.

As for William and me, we’re strong when we’re together. We’re not persuaded into buying something unnecessary when we’re both with Vincent. The trouble starts when we’re separated on our trips.

It plays out the same every time William takes Vincent out for an errand. They usually return with something to add to Vincent’s toy collection. And while it’s never anything expensive, it still is one more toy on the floor of my house.

So, is there hope for us? I would like to say there is. And I would like to say that I’m laying down the law in the Dellinger household and that we aren’t buying anymore useless toys.

But it wouldn’t be true.

I will say this, though, that my son’s room has become a wake-up call for William and me.

We still let Vincent keep his fast-food toys. But when we go to a store, we make it clear that we are not there to buy him a toy.

And I remind him how much he already has compared to other children. For a 5-year-old, the latter is hard to comprehend. But I will keep reminding him.

And about the toys he has now, I’ll pack some up and store them away for later. He’ll think they’re new toys when I bring them back out again.

These small changes are working little by little. And I know we still have a long road ahead of us, but maybe this new road will be littered with fewer toys.

Samantha Dellinger is the graphic designer for Smart magazine. Enjoy more Smart Mama columns here.

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