My 3-½ year-old daughter Lucy is obsessed with horses. Obsessed. She rode one last June in Colorado and has talked about that horse every single day since we came home. She has a wooden rocking horse that she keeps in a "stall" (a radiator in our living room), tied up with "reins" (our dog's leash). She brushes him, "feeds" him, rides him, puts him to bed...you'd think that hunk of wood was a real, live animal.
When I was combing through the holiday toy ads that seem to fill my mailbox and newspapers since the day after Halloween, I spotted what would be the toy of all toys for her: a "lifelike," battery-operated pony that nuzzles, "eats" her carrot, snores, and neighs. At first I was like woohoo! Holiday shopping, check! It's been advertised on sale multiple places, and although it's still not cheap, I know that she'd love it, and it would be the only "big" item I'd purchase for her.
But then the hippie mom in me thought again. It's a battery operated toy, the hippie mom said. She doesn't have to do any work to play with it; it does all the work for her. I put the ads away and decided to rethink my plan.
Here's the thing: when she's playing with her wooden rocking horse, she's being 100% creative. That hunk of wood doesn't neigh or chew or nuzzle her; she just pretends it does. It doesn't have a saddle; we went to the fabric store and made one out of imitation leather. It doesn't have reigns; she pretends that the dog's leash is the reign. It didn't come with a name ("Baby Butterscotch," in the electronic horse's case); she changes her horse's name daily from Calypso to Rio to Angus. It can be whatever horse she wants it to be.
I still don't know whether I'm going to get her Baby Butterscotch or not. But I do know that if I did, the wooden rocking horse that she's so inventive with might stay penned in his radiator "stall," collecting dust. I don't want to see that happen. Or Baby Butterscotch might get his own dog leash reign and join Calypso in the stall. Who knows? The electronic toy dilemma is something that I've struggled with forever, and continue to debate.
Do your kids have a lot of electronic toys? Do you think it affects creativity?