the play's the thing

There is a picture on my sister-in-law's photo site of my nephew sitting on the most gigantic toy truck I've ever seen. He's sitting on it like it's a ride-on toy, and he's not a small 15-month-old. For some reason I feel that I should buy this truck for my son. Mind you, it's not so much that I "want" to buy it, it's that I feel I "should." I don't know, maybe it's some sort of sibling rivalry thing. (Although according to my mother there is no sibling rivalry in our family because each of us believes he or she already won.)

I love that it is so big you can sit on it. But I am also unwilling to buy it because it is so big, and I am picturing it in my house, and it is just so BIG. Now, this is odd. Because I didn't hesitate for a second to buy this enormous play tent, which dominates our living room. Maybe because this is a truck, not a tent, and kids don't have just one truck, they have multiple trucks, and I am afraid that if I start him on that kind of scale I will end up with an oversized traffic jam clogging my home.

I have a small condo in the city, my brother has a large house with yard in the suburbs. And it occurs to me: is this just the tip of the iceberg? It has already become clear that having my son trail my brother's son by three months is exacerbating the tendency to track my son's development with neurotic vigilance, something I'd already feared would be an issue given my personality and something I was determined to suppress. Now I am afraid that my nephew is going to become a focus for the worry that I should be raising my kid in the suburbs.

But back to this truck. My house (I almost changed that to "our house" out of consideration for my husband but decided the possessiveness that crops up in my pronouns when speaking of the domestic sphere is too interesting) is increasingly cluttered with toys. And I really don't mind. In fact I rather like it. I certainly prefer Nugget's colorful, happy clutter to the jumble of bills and legal files and magazines that collects around my husband. Ugh.

I am, however, somewhat reluctant to buy him a ton of toys. Why? Well, for one thing I really hate expending money and space on toys that he ignores. He'd much rather throw CDs on the floor, root around in the trash, and dump the dog's water bowl on his head. I suppose that will change as he gets older? I also am a bit wary of buying toys that he has to grow into. Like I'm contemplating a really nice set of wooden blocks for his birthday in a few weeks but I'm hesitating because I think they'll be bigger and heavier than is really appropriate right now. On the other hand I am reluctant to buy stuff he will grow out of quickly, which kind of leaves me in a bind. I also get really hung up on buying the "right" toys -- the stuff that encourages imagination and creativity, as opposed to stuff that maps out how he is supposed to play with it.

Frequently when I buy toys or consider buying toys, I actually research the BEST musical instrument set, the BEST water table, the BEST tricycle. It's a toy, for crying out loud.

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