We live in a small house, and we have too much stuff. And my children don’t like picking it up and putting it away. They expect the fairies to do it. Or the house elves. Or if all else fails, me.
Today was little different to usual. The living room looked like a toy bomb had exploded. And then, a very large box was delivered.
I’d been expecting a parcel, we’re Playmobil ambassadors after all (the badge is in the sidebar), but I wasn’t expecting anything *quite* so large. As you can imagine, there was a lot of excitement about it.
“When are we opening it?”
“When there’s room to open it.” And I went off to make a cup of tea. A couple of minutes later Smallest (for new or irregular readers, I’ll state is 4 years old) came to find me.
“It’s tidy now.”
“Yes dear.” But I went to look. And I was absolutely taken aback – she had indeed pretty much cleared the living room. More floor was visible than there had been for longer than I care to remember. So we cleaned the floor, and opened the box. (Lesson 1: never underestimate the power of a motivated 4 year old.)
This is the pinnacle of Playmobil parcels. We’d been sent the Noah’s Ark set, as well as a couple of lovely early playmobil sets for Tigerboy.
At this point I saw something I have rarely seen before. All four of my children working cooperatively around one toy, as they assembled the ark and divvied up the animals. There were minor disagreements, as you might expect, but for about half an hour they were all productively engaged in a small space building the ark.
(Lesson 2: the right occupation causes all hatchets to be buried.)
Which, given the weather we’ve been having recently, could well stand us all in good stead.
It’s a fantastic set. There isn’t a great deal of construction to it – the ark itself comes as a boat, and you’ve got the various ladders, walls and inner compartments to build, but it’s not particularly stretching. The tree proved more challenging, possibly because all the different green bits look much the same. Apparently you can get a motor and the boat is watertight, although as we don’t have a bath, that would seem a bit pointless. I don’t think it would work too well in the shower
The attention to detail however is brilliant. There’s a sliding catch with a hatch in the floor. Butterlies that ride on the roof, and little birds for the tree. Various different foods for the different animals, and tools to keep the ark clean, as well as straw beds for Mr and Mrs Noah. (Did she have a name? I couldn’t remember. It’s been a while.) There’s even something that looks remarkably like a barrel of beer. It’s probably meant to be water.
Once the set was constructed, and the smaller bits liberated I left them all to it and retreated to the kitchen with my netbook. My afternoon was punctuated by questions like: what do ostriches eat? What do macaws eat? and the triumphant conclusion to the macaw/parrot argument, which was the discovery that a macaw is just a type of parrot so they were both right. Or both wrong, I’m not quite sure.
But it was educational all round. The children learnt lots about animals. And the biblical tale of the ark.
And I discovered that if you want a 4 year old to tidy up, you just provide a really exciting box, and tell them they can’t open it until the floor is tidy. And if you want all your children to get along, provide a large playmobil kit.
Thanks for the parenting lessons, Playmobil, I’ll cherish them. Along with the memories of happy children, playing together for hours.