Lately The Boy's favorite thing to do is visit Toys R Us. That sounds terrible--he has a million other things he loves to do, but frankly, when we have a morning with Bitty Girl, we're fairly limited on our choices. She's just at a difficult age, hates to stay in the stroller, and runs everywhere. So that rules out the children's museum and even makes the library difficult. (They hate when you take ALL the books off the shelves at once.)
So often our choice on his non-school days (Tuesday and Thursday) is errands like Target or the dreaded Toys R Us. He loves to go look, and he's actually great about leaving without buying anything. Bitty Girl stays in the cart pretty well and he's happy, so it works for a trip every few weeks. It's just the whole atmosphere I hate. Wall-to-wall plastic, marketing of overpriced toys, and I'm sure lots of lead paint, all screaming, "BUY, BUY, BUY!!"
The whole toys/marketing/media thing is a major point of contention for me. I am frustrated with the marketing of every show and character into every area of our lives. But I am also a bad overshopper, and am guilty of overbuying for past birthdays and Christmases. So we're stuck in this world of having too many toys, having a kid who naturally wants every new toy he sees, and not knowing how to get out of it. I can't just throw out all his toys and give him a set of blocks at this point, since he goes to preschool with kids who have these toys and watch these shows.
Our first attempt at avoiding the marketing is just to keep it simple for birthday and Christmas. The Boy's birthday is December 14, which makes it just a month of gifts. I overdid it last year for a variety of reasons, so we're determined not to do that this year. Having no money helps in that area! We're also trying to emphasize the toy donation--we donated some new toys to Toys for Tots, and are going to have him donate a few of his used toys before any new birthday/Christmas toys enter the house. And we talk about media messages and why the toy store has so many toys and how they just want you to buy more and more.
I guess we just keep working on it, and keep fighting the battle. Either that or move out to the middle of nowhere, live in a tent and let him play with sticks and rocks. When I'm cruising the aisles at Toys R Us, that actually sounds good. Well, not the tent part. I'm not a camper. Maybe a small cabin with plumbing and heat, but only sticks and rocks for the kids...