|Kinetic sand--ooh, neat!|
|Who's having more fun with the stickers?|
Why do I keep Mr. Potato Head in my office? And why the little Bugs Bunny bendy figure and Buzz Lightyear and a Slinky and a miniature Etch-A-Sketch?
Because I like them, that's why. I realize that I long ago reached the age when unironic admiration of plastic bendy figures becomes unacceptable, but I'm not ashamed to say that I still like toys.
And I'm not the only one. On Christmas Day seven adults gathered to watch my granddaughter open her presents, and at some point during the day each one of those adults ended up on the floor playing with toys. The pink kinetic sand was quite popular, but the magnetic building blocks were a big hit as well, and I certainly succumbed to the charm of the moveable magnetic barnyard-animal stickers.
It wasn't purely child's play, either. You could just about see the gears working in my granddaughter's head as she experimented with the properties of kinetic sand, but the adults had to find more formal answers: What is it made of? Why does it behave that way? Let's look it up! And suddenly we were engaged in a lively holiday discussion of non-Newtonian solids whilst squishing slimy pink goo between our fingers.
Sure, toys are educational, and we can pat ourselves on the back for buying things that encourage inquiry and creative play. But the main reason to keep toys handy is much simpler: I like toys.
And maybe that's why it's so much fun to have small children around: they give me a guilt-free excuse to get down on the floor and play.