An Important Lesson in Simplicity from a 9-Month Old

by Chris Tecmire

Me and Landry

 

All kids start out brilliant.  Not in a “Mother, I’ve decided to engineer a simple jet pack instead of crawling around on my hands and knees all day” kind of way, but in a more subtle way.  Little kids are brilliant because they haven’t been corrupted yet.  They are still captivated with the simple things in life.  Let me explain.

My son is about 9 months old now.  Before he was born we had a baby shower…actually we had two baby showers (different towns).  At that shower, our friends and family displayed their generosity over and over again with clothes, toys, and baby “essentials” like bibs and boppy pillows.  It was your normal American baby shower.  We ended up with tons of make-you-say-awwww goodies meant for our little one.

Flash ahead to today and you’ll see that Landry has 6 or 7 super cute stuffed animals, plenty of brightly colored plastic toys, a “twist and fold gym“, and an “entertain and grow saucer” that I call his space shuttle because he can sit in the seat provided and push buttons, pull levers, and chew on anything he pleases.  By the way, this is after we got rid of 25% of everything we owned.

The point is…he has plenty of stuff to do.  Stuff that was purchased by people who love him for the expressed purpose of giving him joy.  You know what he plays with?

 

My Son’s 3 Favorite “Toys” Are:

 

1.  Daddy’s sweatshirt string (while I’m wearing the sweatshirt)

There is nothing that holds his interest better than the drawstring on my hooded sweatshirt.  He once played with it for 45 minutes straight without making as much as a peep.  Anyone with a baby knows that this is a miracle and the location where it occurred should now be deemed a holy site.

2.  A wooden spoon that we use for bakingLandry's Favorite Toys

He mostly enjoys chewing on it, using it like a drum on anything that will make noise, and occasionally hitting himself in the head.  I, too, always had an affinity for baking spoons growing up, but only when they had chocolate frosting on them.

3.  His left shoe (or his right – he’s not picky)

I’m not sure what it is about shoes, but the kid’s got a thing for them.  Probably because when you’re crawling around on the floor all day, you tend to see a lot of shoes.  If we’re not sure what toy to give him to keep him happy, we always reach for one of his shoes.

 

Shiny and New

 

When it comes right down to it, the $60 “space shuttle” doesn’t hold a candle to the old, worn, wooden spoon.

So, here’s where I could go on a mini-rant about how much money we spend on young children who don’t know any better.  But I’ll spare you the lecture.

Or I could wax poetically about the importance of teaching your children to be appreciative of what they have instead of always wanting more.  But I’ll save that for a later date.

 

Instead, I want to bring it back to us - the grown ups.  Let’s use this as a reminder that shiny and new isn’t always the way to go.

The simple life has been romanticized over and over again in hundreds of stories, movies, and songs.  Why?  Because deep down we all yearn for the peace, freedom, and pace that simplicity brings.  So, why do our lives continue to get more complex and cluttered?  Because we’re told that it will help.  This product will make you better looking.  That one will bring you joy.  This one will make your life more convenient.  Ahh, the irony.

You and I already have everything we need in order to enjoy an exciting, purposeful, and happy life.  A new app, better car, bigger house, and finer china won’t bring us any closer to a satisfied life.  Contentment and joy can’t be bought or found.  You already have all the tools you need.  Hold onto your faith, your family, and your friends and be willing to let the rest go.  Let’s not make life more complex than it needs to be.  There’s something to be said for simplicity.

My son taught me that.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurel October 3, 2012 at 7:11 am

So very true! If we adults could only relearn this lesson and pass it on to our kids….. my grandson is a blessed little boy to have parents who acknowledge this principle and seek to live it out!

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Rozzanne October 3, 2012 at 8:15 am

I absolutely loved this one. Thank you Chris!!

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Lisa October 3, 2012 at 9:20 am

This is beyond true, but like most parents I didn’t truly figure this out until I have spent boat loads of $ “spoiling” my kids with things they didn’t give 2 hoots about! I want them to have nice things, wear nice clothes and have everything I want or didn’t have because it is somewhat a reflection of me. But really all they want is to be with us and feel loved. I wish I could have known all this before registering for baby things, decorating a nursery etc-but I think everyone learns it on their own. If I were to do it again with the knowledge I have now-it would be with at least 50% of what I had the first time-less truly is more in so many areas of life. Thank You!

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Chris Tecmire October 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Well said Lisa. Unfortunately, like you mentioned, most parents figure it out after they’ve already spent a bunch of money on toys and such. And great point about the parents’ image concerns. Very true. It’s not like the kids care at that age.

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Jayne October 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Preach it brother! Of course, another great way to save money on your children’s things is to talk your parents into having children just a couple of years before you do so they can give you all their hand-me-downs. Lol. Granted, this won’t work for everyone.
Seriously though, you are doing people a great service with your blog. Keep up the good work.

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Chris Tecmire October 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Thanks Jayne! And I’ll have to remember your tip for next time ;)

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Vonnie October 3, 2012 at 6:14 pm

You are so right, Chris. I used to give away half of what they got for birthdays and Christmas. They never showed any interest in half of the things that they got. As they grew up, I kept two toys for them: Duplo blocks and Leggos. I also have a few toys of their father’s, but they only played with them at Nana’s house. They had much more fun with Tonka trucks in the sand. They wore them out. That is really all they needed. By the way, I loved your site for glasses. Guess where Richard’s next pair is coming from?

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Chris Tecmire October 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Blocks and legos are great options since they’re so versatile. That’s what kids need – versatile toys that allow them to be creative.
Glad you liked Zenni Optical Vonnie!

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Marian Geister October 5, 2012 at 3:51 am

Enjoy your blog, Chris. The true simplicity of wisdom you give to all who reads your blog will be a help to live the good life of which America needs. Fifty years ago our children played with Wooden Clothes Pins that their Grandma had used to hang her clothes on the line (all 4 seasons) raising 14 children. You restore my faith, in that the good life of , hard work.good morals. honesty & truth can be restored ,people just need to commit to the Lord & the good simple life we can all live if we will just be willing. Thanks Chris & God bless!

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Chris Tecmire October 5, 2012 at 7:31 am

Thanks for your kind words Marian!

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Angela October 9, 2012 at 11:55 pm

My nine month old son has 2/3 of the same favorites :)

The shirt drawstrings are a hit, as well as shoes…but if I had to choose a third it would definitely be our dog! Or anything dog related (dog bed, bone, water bowl). I like your theory about their favorites being the things they see most from their (low) point of view.

I recently found your site and really love the “new” perspectives on finances! Can’t wait to read more!

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Chris Tecmire October 10, 2012 at 7:31 am

Thanks Angela, I’m thrilled that you could join us at SFF!
Yes, my son LOVES animals too. Unfortunately, my wife is very alergic, so he doesn’t have his very own to play with, but anytime we go over to my in-laws, he gets super excited to “play” with the dogs. And I’m sure he would love to chew on a dog bone or two as well :)

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