Favorite toys and a sense of imagination, Megan Rosker writes, are more important than any test score ever could be.
I recently came across Kristin Theiss’s blog klt’s sketchbook. I loved this post about “loveys”, the toys and blankets children carry with them throughout childhood. For my daughter it is her orange blanket, a hand-knit item she has had since birth. Many of us have something. I had a pink rhino that I eventually lost in Houston—when I was 21. OK, it was probably time to let go anyway, right?
Kristen’s post got me thinking about the importance of these objects and of make-believe or “nursery magic,” as she calls it in her post. Are these relationships disposable, easily replaced with cartoonish images of pop toys and groovy TV trends? Or is falling in love with a toy important to how we develop? What kind of children do we raise if they never have the chance to care deeply for a figment of their imagination?
When we push our kids too quickly out of childhood, separating them from their blankies and loveys, we force them to mature too fast. Yet, in our aggressive and paranoid educational atmosphere, there is no place for gentle play and tenderness.
It is so easy, as a parent or teacher, to get caught in the fury and push of educating our children at a younger and younger age, when really, what is the point of an excellent education if we have never learned how to love or care for someone or something else? What are our children going to use their education for? Given today’s push for individual success in the classroom, it seems we care more about the personal future of the individual rather than the success of our culture collectively.
Because our attention has strayed so far from “old fashioned” ideals of childhood, we are now at risk of raising a generation of children who are greatly diminished in their capacity for empathy. We have spent so much time focusing on their success in the future, we missed the importance of what is happening in the present.
It is our capacity to care and innovate for ourselves and others, which makes us truly unique beings. Giving our children the chance to be youthful, to get lost in the dazzle of their imaginations, to fall in love with rocks, books, and stuffed animals, to let them feel the disappointment of losing that one they have care for: all of this deepens our experience as human beings. These are not small, unimportant things. These moments define us far more than any score on a test or letter grade in a class. There is no greater quality we have than the ability to love and care for another. Our focus must be on the success of the individual for the greater good of the society. And not surprisingly, this begins in the smallest moment, like when a child falls in love with a toy.
Kristin shares this beautiful quote from the Velveteen Rabbit:
Real isn’t how you are made” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long time, not just to play with , but REALLY loves you, then you become Real….Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.
Originally appeared at Let Children Play.