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December 16, 2006 / Maleesha Kovnesky

We ruin them.

Today at lunch, my friend Jill and I were discussing presents and kids.  She had a great story about her twin boys, back when they were three. 

They spent a great deal of work prepping the twins for Santa’s impending arrival.  I mean, they went all out — putting reindeer tracks in the yard, boot tracks near the fireplace, etc.  They carefully engaged the twins in the setting out of snacks for Santa and his entourage.

Christmas morning came.  The shiny new bikes were propped near the tree, probably reflecting the colorful lights.  Presents were strewn about in great quantities. 

Morning came, and the parents woke up to the sounds of feet pounding across the house.  The twins roared out of bed and down the stairs at lightning speed.  Jill made it to the top of the stairs just in time to see the twins streak past the bikes, past the colorful gifts and toys and candy.  They went immediately to the plate of snacks to check to see if Santa got them. 

What kind of toys do they like best?  We all know the answer.  Cardboard boxes and the roll from the paper towels.  Rocks.  Balls of aluminum foil.  As parents and adults, we really ought to foster this simplicity and enjoy it as long as we can.  But often we give them toys and fun things made in China because we want them to have everything we didn’t, even though maybe they would be better off. 

Soon enough they will be asking for the best video games and the coolest tennis shoes.  And if we are able, we might try to give it to them (if they take out the garbage, of course).  But we should really try to enjoy their fascination at tiny, insignificant things. 

Tiny, insignificant things to us; that is, the grown-ups.  To kids, a cardboard box holds all the mysteries of the universe.

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