Friday, February 19, 2010

Good, Bad & Ugly

Caution: it's a long one...

We have been on this crazy/lazy cycle for a few weeks, now.  It seems as though we have two crazy busy days in a row, then recover on the third by being couch potatoes.  To combat the grouchies that come along with acting like a vegetable, we pulled out an as of yet unplayed Christmas gift (thanks, Nene!). 
Something that we've been excited to play with for a while, but just never took the opportunity.  Jack, Lena & I played for almost an hour.  It was a lot of fun, and easy for a preschooler to use, yet entertaining for second grade, too.  It didn't require too much brain activity on my part either, which is probably why we could play a whole hour.  Bonus: We all won a game!

If I had my way, all our toys would still be from Disney.  I have long thought that not having cable would isolate us from a lot of the garbage TV and accessory marketing out there, but alas, it hasn't.  We've been weaving our way through Japanese card games for over a year, now, and the slippery slope has continued to slide.  Pokemon, Bakugan, Dinosaur King and now on to Yu-gi-oh.  Poor Jack....I feel if we would have started him out on Star Wars, or some other good vs. evil game which appeals to boys, this wouldn't now be an issue.

I'm completely comfortable with the good vs. evil idea implemented in toys.  After all, the Bible was the first example of good vs. evil.  For boys, especially, it seems they need a "hero outlet" in their creative play.   Some great character to look up to; whether the hero is strong in body, mind, or character.  And a hero, isn't a hero, without some one to save and an antagonist to fight against.  I've often heard that even if you ban gun toys in your home, (which we don't) boys would make one out of whatever is handy (legos, fingers, etc).

Certainly, there are girl things we'd rather avoid, too.  As much as I love a good Disney I really want Lena thinking she needs to look like Ariel in a swimsuit in order to trick a man into marrying her!!  I know, there are big assumptions here...and gentle pursuits into any toy is mostly okay, but what we're dealing with now is a passion (maybe obsession??) of a seven year old for card trading games.

Paul and I have been talking all week about "big picture family philosophy" sort of issues....and how we make decisions from this about what kinds of toys the kids play with.  I talked with Jack last night before books and bed and we seemed to have drawn some sort of a "new line" in the sand as to how much money, time, and energy we'll invest in the cards

Here it is:
Pokemon: we're cool with this.  We've seen the videos, read the books, seen the cards and find them to be mostly G-rated.

Bakugan & Dinosaur King: The library doesn't have as many books and videos on these two, so we haven't gotten too far into them.  But as for the cards and the Saturday morning tv show, they are okay.

Yu-gi-oh: Here is a bit stickier one, as he's really interested in these cards now.  He has two books and a bunch of cards.  We're okay with what he has, but we're not interested in getting more.  One of the books has words like "dark magician, summon, evolution, spirit reaper.  Not "bad" words...but do we really need to glorify all this?  Also, some of the women have clothes on that are a little too close to lingerie.  At our local library, these books are in the young adult section under "graphic novels" and do have swear words and skimpy female clothing.  We've told him we won't be doing presents of Yu-gi-oh or spending any money at Wal-mart on these items.  There are so many other things out there for kids to play with, it hardly feels like punishment!!  Jack took the whole discussion very well and hopefully (this is the avoidance characteristic in me) he will just grow out of it and lose interest.  One more thing...I emphasized to Jack that this is an open discussion.  We'd rather not "ban" things in a manner which will even cause MORE interest in the thing we're trying to avoid.  Plus, we'd like Jack to come to the decision on his own that he'd rather not play with these things.

So, to surmise...we're okay with what we have now, but won't be delving into Yu-gi-oh any farther.  The extended family has been very generous in fueling the kid's passions, and we are extremely grateful for their support and their interest in the kid's worlds.  I'm thinking our upcoming spring break trip will provide a good opportunity to take a break from our normal toys and maybe by the time we get home, the warmer weather will beckon more loudly than our indoor pursuits.

PS. I do talk to other Mom's & our family (and recently the librarians) about these issues, but have also used Focus on the Family's Media Review and Consumer Media as resources.

OH FOR THE DAYS OF THOMAS THE TRAIN!!!  How quickly they disappered!

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