An Abstract Concept: Kids & Overstimulation
(From One of Apartment Therapy’s Kids’ Room Tours here)
I have this idea in my head, this concept. It has to do with what I want my home to look like, but also with what kinds of toys my kids will own. Like all idealistic concepts that get formed in my brain, this one is probably unrealistic and fluffy. It formulated itself into images and phrases last week; it’s ready to be projected.
This funny idea has formed because I’ve babysat in people’s homes. I’ve seen what their living rooms look like. I look at how people around me allow their children to live. And I think it’s ugly. I also think it can be prevented. The best way to present this concept of how I want to live can best be expressed in disjointed images, so read along and bear in mind that all of these are connected.
You’re sitting in church, and you’re surrounded by children at various stages of development. You look behind you and you see an infant in a large, plastic carseat with a handle on the top. From the sunshade above the kid’s head and from the handle are draped lots of bright, cartoony stuffed animals. Not just bright and stuffed, but primary colors, plastic, and with the capability to light up and make noise. Several of these, hanging above the child’s head.
Another infant, sitting in a parent’s lap, is gnawing on a paper cup. You’re at a family reunion, outside, so the kid probably snatched the cup from the tabletop. The parent notices and pulls a brightly-colored, plushy plastic toy from a nearby bag and tries to distract the infant with it, but the kid likes the cup better and won’t let go. There’s probably an element of boring, familiar toy versus something new and exciting, and you wonder why the parent even bothers having the toy when everyday objects work just as well.
You walk into a home with several children, all under the age of seven. You can tell that the parents have cleaned their home to make it look as neat as possible. There’s no clutter that usually accompanies typical chidren’s play, the surfaces on the nice, cherrywood entertainment center are all clean and the furniture is fingerprint free. None of the glass in the room has streaks on it and the carpet is free of crumbs. It looks ready to receive company.
There’s also a pile of plastic children’s furniture in the corner of the living room, in front of the bookcase. A play kitchen in white and purple, a walker that is essentially a plastic feeding area on wheels, and one of those red miniature cars that the kid can sit in and move with her feet. You think little of it until you’ve been in the house for awhile: the backyard is covered in snow and the bedroom has toys neatly tucked onto shelves that fill the walls. The small house doesn’t have a garage or a shed, as far as you can see. The corner of the living room IS the storage place for the kid furniture.
There is an abundance of ugly, plastic toys out there. All of these incidents make me sad because they can be avoided. I’ve also got words like “overstimulation” and “unecessary entertainment” popping into my head; it appears that this idea’s conclusion is incomplete. It has to do with parents being aware of the toy purchases they make for their children, but it’s more than mere appearance.
I’m having trouble coming up with a tidy ending for this idea—the closest I can get is that I want to be able to tuck all my child’s toys into containers, bins, cupboards and onto shelves, to make my small space transition completely from play time to quiet time, from daycare to adult conversation, from a period of social interaction to a period of spiritual education that has no toys in sight.
Many plastic toys I’ve seen look unwieldy and bulky, but I don’t think it’s just the plastic: Legos are fine, as are dolls and toy cars. It could be my aversion to developmental toys that are intentionally big and brightly-colored—I prefer the aesthetics of simple wood and felt–but is it necessary to dangle them in the face consistently, from the carseat, the crib, the stroller, and the high chair? It is possible for parenthood to be graceful and physically manageable and appealing, right?
(From Nova Naturals)
Instead of a carseat lugged into the grocery store by a handle, I’d like a sling; instead of lugging a heavy stroller onto the bus and then going back for the child and the diaper bag, I’d like the transition from bus stop onto bus to be a fluid and graceful dance. And that requires the right equipment and a consciousness of its functionality in the store, at the time of purchase.
(From a beautiful store called Romp)