What I Want… Or Not

A Pottery Barn Kids catalogue came in the mail yesterday. I always love looking at the catalogues, and I really love looking at the merchandise in the store. I love all the Star Wars stuff they have for boys, and the Dr. Seuss stuff is pretty cool, too. I’d love to decorate my kids’ rooms to look like a PBKids catalogue page. I’d love to have a playroom for the kids like in the catalogue. The play kitchen they have?? SO awesome. My kids like going to the store just to play with the play kitchen there. You don’t need to be a girl to have fun in the kitchen. 🙂 I was looking at some of the other furniture they offer in the catalogue, and I found this awesome media cabinet thing. I can’t find it online, otherwise I’d give you the link. Anyway, it’s perfect for one of those flat screen monstrosities that I’d just kill to have. It has a row of drawers (that fit CDs and DVDs) and six doors. The two sets of doors on the outside are actually pull-out file drawers, and the set of doors on the inside opens to have pull-out media shelves (perfect for the DVD player, XBox, and Wii… which I will hopefully have someday). There are now drool marks on that page of the catalogue.

After dinner last night, Ches and I were sitting by the patio door, watching the boys play in the yard. I call it a yard, but really it’s a big strip of dirt. The boys had two little shovels and a sand sifter, a little wagon, and a large blue bucket. I was showing the new finds of the catalogue to Ches and kind of wishing I had a flat screen TV or enough money to decorate Aiden’s room with the cool space picture (complete with little LED lights) and a large wooden light sabre, when I looked over at my boys.

They were running and laughing, shoveling dirt and throwing it at the wall, pouring dirt and mud into the wagon and the bucket, and just having the best time of their young lives. Their hands were dirty, but their faces shone.

I threw the catalogue on the floor. I don’t want that stuff. I don’t need that stuff. We have dirt. Why do I think I need to fill my house with stuff? The kids are just as happy playing with their plastic shovels that cost $1 at Target than with the $800 kitchen set from Pottery Barn.

I have recently been introduced to the book Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran. This picture book is essentially the true story of a group of children in Yuma, Arizona that lived several generations ago. These children played in the desert and made a villiage out of what was there in the desert: rocks and dirt and pieces of glass… They played there so much that the area today still exists. It is now a park in Yuma where you can go play. The kindergarten teacher at the school where I work told me about this book, and I found it and read it last week. Each class at my school has their own garden to plant things and to play in. The kindergartener’s garden is really set up after Roxaboxen. In fact, the author came to my school a few years ago just to see the Roxaboxen at this school. I was in the garden with the kindergarteners on Thursday and I watched as they dug in the sand, made a river, exchanged shiny rocks (their money), “painted” with water, and overall had the most productive half hour of their day.

When I was a kid, I understood the concept of Roxaboxen. You played outside with your friends until the street lights came on. You played with what was out there. No cell phones. No XBox. No iPods. Just rocks and dirt and trees and grass and flowers and sticks and weeds and old boxes and cans and your bikes and maybe a soccer ball… and your imagination, of course. My children have not heard of Roxaboxen. Yet. But they have their own Roxaboxen in their minds, and soon our backyard will be Roxaboxen.

Because really, what else do you need?

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15 responses to “What I Want… Or Not

  1. seriously! that’s all I remember playing with, a big dirt field, bikes and imagination! I almost hate buying toys for Chloe cause she only plays with them for about a week then they are thrown in the back of her closet. pottery barn stuff is super cute, but if you think about it…if you had all that stuff it’d just be a big dust collector! but it sure would look nice though right?

  2. I’ve never heard of that book. it sounds awesome though! I agree with you. I always want nice stuff, but really, we have everything we need. And the kids love their dirt 🙂

  3. Sounds like a super book…I may go find a copy (do you think they’ll have it at the library?). The worst thing I ever did was buy my oldest boys a nintendo ds. The moment they opened them I knew it was a mistake. Luckily now I know better and I won’t make that mistake again. You are right…when they are playing with each other and using their imaginations it just seems so much better. I wish I hadn’t been in such a hurry to grow up when I was young. K.

  4. Thank you for this post, and for reminding us all what really matters. The lessons your boys are learning as they make their own Roxaboxen are much better than anything we could teach them in an artificial environment.

    I’m going to look for that book the next time we go to the library — it looks great!

  5. I love this post! I feel the same way. Something I want more than anything right now is grass…but my kids LOVE the dirt outside. I still think I’ll get grass, just so there isn’t so much dirt all the time…believe me, they will still be able to find plenty of dirt to play with after we put grass in. but in the end, kids are happiest with the simplest things. We could learn a lot from them! (at least I could, in so many different ways!)

  6. I can’t resist.

    EVERY time I click on the blog surfer and see this post my mind immediately starts singing, “tell me what you want, what you really really want, I’ll tell you what you want what you really really want” but in Ralph Wiggum’s voice because I saw that Simpson’s clip last night.

    You may all thank me for pasting that into your minds. It’s contagious.

  7. Yesterday we went to buy a tree to plant over our little bird… My girls complained because I want to plant it in the middle of the back yard. They say that it will take away from where they like to dig. Our yard is one giant sandbox, and my kids can’t get enough! In fact, when we last visited my mom who has a beautifully manicured lawn, they complained that there was no dirt to dig in.

    Simplicity is nice.

  8. This post is awesome! When I was a kid we had a dirt pile we played on. It was called “the dirt pile” and it was located in “the field” (we weren’t the most creative at naming stuff, clearly). It was the coolest place to play ever. Who needs stuff when you have dirt?

  9. We used to play with balls and had all kinds of games that used balls for competitions. Some of the kids could get 5 balls up in the air. I only every made it to three.
    When I played indoors, I remember using file folders and cutting holes in them for windows and doors and I made whole streets on the dining room table. Colored the fronts like houses and stores, used to spend hours doing that when I couldn’t play outside.

  10. AMEN!

    we had cement sand. it was red clay out at my grandparents farm. best playground ever! i never really played inside. i think it’s sad kids don’t play outside more. it scares me to think, if things continue as they are, there will be no one with imaginations running around. just little human robots with electronic devices convincing them they are having fun.

    great post!

  11. I remember the outsides from everywhere I lived as a young child ever so much better than the insides–the field where I was two and three, the undeveloped end of the street where I was four, then at five and six,the hill behind our garage [“best sledding hill in town”] and its trees for climbing, the creek for wading–but only with an adult watching!–and then moving to CA, [did you know you can slide through the irrigation flumes? And our final move up on the hill. There we had endless dirt, brush, sand, rocks, dirt piles, etc. I like where I am now because the kids around here play in the dirt and ride their bikes and yell like kids until dark.

  12. ok this post was fab. Second ONLY to the one about you locking the keys in the van. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, cute girl.

    Oh, btw, YOU ARE OLDER THAN I! (by a few months, but still….)

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