The stick – possibly the world’s oldest toy – was added Nov. 27 to the National Toy Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Barbie, Slinky, teddy bears, Mr. Potato Head and Play-Doh.”
I can’t imagine a more deserving character for this honor; my boys spent hours this summer tossing small sticks into mountain streams to watch them negotiate the rapids. And I can’t imagine a more appropriate time of year to spotlight the play value of the simple stick; every time my boys watch commercial childrens’ television, I can’t help but think that the people who contrive and then market crap like Power Rangers Jungle Fury Sound Fury Battle Claws or the Hannah Montana Malibu Beach House Playset are really only one step removed from the parasites who used to market cigarettes to minors. Andrew in particular has been infected with a particularly virulent strain of toy-greed, and Belinda and I are working hard to rein in the more indulgent impulses of friends and family around us (and probably becoming insufferable in the process).
But sticks—hey, that’s brilliant! Why not give sticks this Christmas? Of course I’m not so out-of-touch to think I can get away with wrapping up sticks to put beneath our tree, but I can promise the boys more opportunities to get outside and find them on their own. I’m thinking in particular of putting to use my brother’s canoe, mostly gathering dust at my mom’s house right now. I can easily box and wrap a snapshot of it as a promissory note for a canoe camping trip sometime this spring (or even better I could give them a cheap paddle, seeing as how the boat is short one). Likewise, I might wrap a couple of carabiners as a pledge to take them climbing. The fact that I want to do these things anyway won’t take away from their excitement and anticipation one bit. And by making these outings a contract of sorts, I won’t be able to put them off when less important things threaten to get in the way.