A few weeks ago at a festival, The Boy was chasing after all the older kids kicking balls in an open grassy area. "Bal" is one of the words he can say and he's a little obsessed with throwing them -- and, for that matter, anything else -- so after a few minutes of trying to keep The Boy from being trampled by these kids, I marched over to the carnival game that was handing out the balls as prizes and bought one for $3. I know I was over-charged, but I could have spent that $3 putting The Boy on a ride that lasted two minutes and instead we got more than an hour watching him kick and throw the ball, then run screaming after it. He'd hold the ball in front of him and toddle up to the big kids, as if saying, "See. I've got a ball, too. Now will you play with me." And we got to take the ball home, where it has been a favored toy. Best $3 ever.
Unfortunately, the ball died a sudden death last weekend when I accidentally kicked it into our thorny bougainvillea. My lack of athleticism is legendary, but I maintain the wind took the ball into the bush.
I bought The Boy a replacement ball today at Wal-Mart. The new ball was made in my hometown, which kind of makes me a little warm and fuzzy inside. For one, yay! someone still has a job, and two, it feels sort of a like a connection between The Boy and his faraway family. Even better, this ball only cost $1.
My mom mocked me at Christmas time for telling her not to go crazy with the kid and buy him lots of loud, big toys. Of course she didn't listen. He got a riding truck that honks and beeps and a guitar that plays six tinny-sounding pop songs. For his birthday, Papaw bought him a toy chainsaw that looks and sounds like a real one. The Boy loves all of those. And Mom's right: Grandparents should be allowed to spoil their grandchildren. But I will tell you, I'm leaving the spoiling (well, the financial spoiling anyway) to them. The toys that get the most use in our house right now are the cheap ones: the ball, the $15 block set, the $3 set of stacking cups. The only things that get played with more aren't toys at all: an old phone, my spices, spoons.
The Boy is happiest chewing on a block while "fixing" his noisy truck by poking it with a spoon.