The Toys Stay At Nana’s House
When my grandsons come to the cottage in the summer, I admit I spoil them by buying whatever toys spark their interest. In the past, when they left for home, I would agree to let them take the new toys home.
We repeated this several times, buying more toys and packing them up with the children in the car. As a result, there was nothing for them to play with at the cottage on their next visit. I learned, finally, to say, “The toys we buy stay here.” There was some complaining about that rule, but they were always delighted when they came back because the toys they had left were new to them. And the bonus is that when friends come with their grandchildren, I have a selection of toys and games to entertain them.
It’s a steep learning curve for a grandparent to accept that it’s not necessary to supply grandchildren with every amenity they’re accustomed to at home. My car doesn’t have a television set in the backseat for watching movies on the two-hour drive to the cottage. But we play word and colour games and have the best conversations. And at the cottage, my television set does not have the capacity to fast forward through commercials!
When my friend, Sally of Timmins, Ont., became a grandmother for the first time, she knew she would be babysitting a lot and was happy to do so. With a small bungalow, she and her husband didn’t have room for a full-size crib, so she bought a play-and-grow structure that doubles as a crib, has a change table and adjusts to different levels as the baby grows. “The baby sleeps just fine there for her afternoon nap,” she says. Like me, she buys toys and wonderful clothes for the new baby to keep at her house and falls into the same habit sometimes of letting the clothes and toys
go home with the baby.
Another friend, Dorothy of Winnipeg, looks forward to her 10-month-old grandson coming for visits from Ottawa. “We bought a used crib for his first visit,” she says, “but now that he’s almost a year, we will need to get a high chair for next time.” This baby is Dorothy’s first grandchild and, just before he came for his first visit to Winnipeg last summer, Dorothy’s friends threw her a surprise “granny shower” so she had a ready supply of teething rings, blocks, stacking toys, even a wagon. “I had gone to lots of showers for their grandchildren, so this was their way of reciprocating,” she says.
Not everyone is feted with a gran-ny shower, but everyone can access friends’ hand-me-downs, and second-hand children’s stores offer barely used equipment.
You can buy a Pottery Barn crib with all the trimmings, of course, and, as they get older, the latest Wii games. But that honour should belong to their parents. Grandkids will love grand-Zoomers for other reasons, such as our sparkling wit, brilliant repartee and unconditional love. Besides, wouldn’t you rather spend the money on dinner and a movie for you and your spouse – or on toys that stay at the cottage?