My husband and I have an ongoing debate over how many toys our children should have. He seems to believe they should be sufficiently entertained with a piece of string and a metal spoon. But I am the one who spends ten hours a day with them. Sure that string spoon combo provides a wealth of play opportunities, but at some point, one child is going to wrap the string around the other ones’ neck, and then start hitting him over the head with a spoon. I need other options.
The only time I agree with my husband is when I have the daunting task of sanitizing the toys. Kellen was diagnosed with pink eye and an ear infection yesterday. I recently went to the doctor for a respiratory infection. Liam, like most three year olds, has had colds on and off for about three months. I decided this morning it was time to get down and dirty doing some serious cleaning.
Started off loading the plastic race track, tool sets, and faux food into the dishwasher. Noticed that the pink plastic tea cups were snugged right up against my wine glasses from last night- a fitting picture of my day to day life.
Then began cleaning endless batches of toys in the sink. Literally sink after sink of legos, blocks, cars, train tracks, dolls, and any other toy you could possibly think of. I read all those parenting magazine articles about how building toys are the best for children because it encourages them to use their imagination. While I’m sure that is true, I don’t think anyone who wrote those articles ever had to clean a 500 piece “starter” lego set.
Then comes the toys that can’t be rinsed- the electronic toys, which are of course the favorites. When I realized just how many battery guzzlers I had lying around, I started trying to weed out toys I might not have to clean because they hadn’t been played with in awhile. There are none. Kellen and Liam have come up with this great pastime where they surround themselves with toys that light up and play music, and see if they can get all of them going at the same time. Now you know why there were wine glasses in the dishwasher.
Of course, as I’m cleaning, I am disgusted at how I allow my children to play with these filthy time bombs of festering germs. Everything is sticky. And marked with black fingerprints. And covered in dried bits of food. At some point, I emptied a toy box and found a blackish green shriveled tube. My internal horror mounted as I estimated that someone had placed feces in the toy box and it had remained in there long enough to dehydrate. Upon closer inspection, I determined it was a pickle.
Just when I’m ready to toss out all the toys and plant my kids in front of a Wii, Liam comes up and tells me to close my eyes. I do and he places an item in my hand. It is a lego man with a strange pole sticking out of his head.
I say “It’s awesome! What is it?”
“It’s a man wearing an interesting hat,” he says.
Sure enough, it is. Little does that kid know by getting me to smile, he just saved himself from an existence of playing with sticks.
Now, it you’ll excuse me, I have about two hundred books to wipe down.