I started writing this post acting like we had a carefully curated, selective Christmas list for our sons, as if we're soooo great at keeping things minimal. But I had to get real. Our kid is spoiled. But in our meager defense, we like spoiling him with gifts we hope develop his brain and his interests (not to mention toys we'd like to play with ourselves.) Here's what we asked Santa (i.e. his family members and our credit card bill) for our preschooler this year:
Paul is very interested in works whom you might see as members of the "Village People": firefighters, construction workers, police officers, plus teachers and paramedics. I honestly don't know how he'll react to these community play people but they represent some of his favorite careers and I like that they represent a diverse community. (But why are their feet so big?)
Paul's fascination with firefighters is utterly charming to us—I think we are secretly encouraging it to postpone the inevitable day when he is more into comic book and video game heroes than real life ones. Meanwhile, at my parents' house, he enjoys playing with my old dollhouse. I'm hoping that between the dolls and the firehouse we can encourage a bit of gender-neutral play without forcing it (I thought about getting him a toy kitchen but I feel like that's forcing it—plus, all the pieces and the size and assembly: no thanks.)
I adore watching my son play pretend. He often likes to stand inside his toy easel and pretend he's running an ice cream shop (although he currently only sells chocolate, vanilla and rainbow.) I'm a sucker for the Land of Nod design and love how this stand can be used for a variety of pretend functions. I realize now though I probably should buy him some play ice-cream (so I'm sort of fulfilling my fantasy of the play kitchen after all.)
Paul's been a little young so far to play actual games with us—he has the attention span of, well, a three-year-old, so things like rules and turns are stuff we're still working on. I think this kid-friendly version of Jenga, however, could be fun on a rainy day, although the trick will be figuring out how to make the tower falling not seem like either a disaster or so fun that that's all you want to do.
My husband is a filmmaker, director and editor and he and I both share an interest in photography. Every time we get out the "real" camera (as opposed to just our phones) our son likes using it as well and slowly he has been figuring out how to actually take pictures instead of just pushing the button. I was surprised by how affordable this digital camera is for a child and it's got good reviews. It'd be fun to get our son engaged in our hobby. Plus, we are taking our first real out-of-town family vacation next year so perhaps he could pair the two experiences.
This one pains me but it's the lone gift I know Paul really wants, because we saw it at Target and he won't stop talking about it. A blinding orange dinosaur? An acid green truck? That shoots darts? Oh, my aching pretentious liberal heart! But deep down I'd rather see the kid happy with a stupid toy like this than to try to force some sort of artisanal block I hand-carved out of bamboo on him.