There Must Be a Toy Monster in the House

Before I had my own children, I spent a number of years as a fulltime live-in nanny/caregiver/preschool teacher (yes, I did all those things with the children I cared for). One thing that used to bug me was when toy sets were incomplete or puzzles had missing pieces or when books were damaged. I hated it. It messed with my desire to keep things orderly and complete.
When my son was born, I bought him some toys and books, and was determined to never lose a piece to a set or to let them get damaged in any way. Of course a newborn hardly even bothers to look at his toys, so there was no problem there.
As Logan got older, I kept tabs on his toys and made sure to pick them all up when he was finished playing. I would even count the plastic animals and Lego pieces to make sure they were all there. Books were limited to reading with mommy since he took to biting them early on. Aside from wanting complete sets and mint-condition books, I didn’t want to waste money by things being lost or destroyed when it was preventable.
I don’t know when I first noticed it, but ever so slowly things started to disappear. First one plastic animal, then another, then a piece of Lego. At first I would scan the house, looking in every nook and cranny and at times finding something that was missing, but what bothered me the most was things that never showed up. Where were they going??
I think he was over 2 when both his bottle and sippy cup disappeared in the same week. I couldn’t believe it. They were no where to be found. I gave him the cup one morning full of milk, and minutes later he didn’t have it and I could not find it. Sometime later I saw him throw a cloth over the balcony. That is when it clicked. Why had I not thought to check if he was throwing stuff over? I had never seen him do it so I never thought he did it.
That was when I took to checking the ground below the balcony whenever something went missing. Often I found what he threw down and other times they had already been taken. I guess the people finding the toys figured no one wanted them and kept them.
Logan got good at losing toys and I eased up on keeping perfect tabs on his toys. After all, I have more important things to spend my time on. Yes, he has cost me a lot of money in the last 4 years. He has destroyed more books and puzzles and lost more toys than I ever thought was possible. Every time I sware I won’t buy him any more, yet I continue to do so. You’d think I’d learned my lesson, but how can I say no when he asks for yet another farm puzzle or a book about animals?
My job now is teaching him to care for what I give him. In the mean time, I keep all the good books on a high shelf, and if I do give in and get him a puzzle for his soon-coming birthday (he’ll be 4 next month), I guess I’ll have to watch it closely too and keep it out of reach when he isn’t using it. Too bad for me; those things are supposed to keep him busy when I have other things to do, not give me more work.

Anyone else experience this? How have you taught your toddler or preschooler to care for their things?

This post was inspired by this one from Amber at Crappy Pictures. Check her out.

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  1. Kids lose things like it is their job.My suggestion? have him put them away.We have clear lidded bins with labels on them in the basement playroom. Each bin has a different kind of toy in it. I put a picture of what goes in each along with the name. When my son was about 4yo & my daughter 2yo, I did this and started having them put toys away. They got used to doing it, and they kind of inventoried stuff as they cleaned. Now at 6 & 4yo, they know when something's missing. So they keep better track, but still. It's like the socks that get lost in the laundry: you do your best, but some things can't be controlled.

  2. Ha! The missing bottle and cup would have driven me absolutely INSANE. I bet you were so relieved, in a way, to find out he was throwing stuff over so that you at least knew you weren't going crazy! And I bet the kids downstairs really thought they had some kind of toy fairy:)


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