When our first son was born, my wife and I were so excited. Not to mention the expensive clothes for the little baby, we went around buying all the best toys to make him happy.
Actually, out of ignorance, some toys we bought were beyond his age. We simply wanted the best of everything for him. So at first, we spent a good deal of money on all sorts of stuffÃ¢â‚¬â€balls, toy cars, play pens, bells, you name it! We dumped a lot of money on these things.
As he grew up, he was becoming so expensive to manage since the toys to match his age were also becoming expensive. Over time, however, we realised how much money we were losing on toys.
Something dawned on us later that we used to be very creative as children ourselves. Our parents hardly bought us anything really. Growing up in Ndirande (Blantyre), we would go down the Nasolo River, find some clay and make very shiny toy cars out of it. We would make trucks and any model of car out of wire.
Out of wire and fire matches, we would make toy guns that would blare with fire and loud sounds. We were a happy bunch of children and would look forward to competing (without seeking any reward) on our innovations.
“Yes, that was then, now times have changed, Thom,” I can hear some of you murmur like the children of Israel in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. But I will tell you something. Presently, some of the best toys our son enjoys are home-made.
We taught him how to make galimoto yadongo and mawaya (clay and wire-made toy cars). He can make a toy kite plane and fly it around. He can make some wind-driven wheels out of tree leaves and run around with them. He can do small boats out of paper. He can make soccer ball out of some plastic bags. He can draw triangles, rectangles and all sorts of shapes on pieces of paper and cut them for pasting on his wall charts.
He made a jar where he can throw-in and save some coins. My son also plays with an old remote control and an old cellular phone (we took off the batteries). He pushes the buttons and talks on them. What makes us even happier is the excitement and bubbling that he shows every time he makes something new by himself. And guess what? His performance at school has considerably improved.
Some would say “akulu apa ndiye mwayenjeza, kuwumira kwanji kumemekuÃ‚Â (is this not more of being stingy than money saving?)” “Just buy your son the toys, musamuphereufulu wake?”
Well, call it what you may but one fact stands out for your consideration: Not only are we making huge money savings by teaching and encouraging our son to use home and own-made toys. We are also inculcating a spirit of innovativeness.
In these days of TV, it is so easy to have the children engrossed into C-Beebies, Hannah Montana and other cartoon programmes with little time for them to exercise their brains for intellectual activity.
So, before you splurge on expensive toys for your infant or toddler, give the idea of home-made toys a try. The rewards could be enormous.