'What's your favourite toy?'

The Internet is a treasure trove of information and imagery that inspires, informs and enlightens. I will openly confess that I’m addicted to the Internet. That aside, every now and again, something catches my eye and I can’t close that tab.

Today, it was this. A Gabriele Galimberti collection, Toy Stories, compiled photographs of children from across the globe, with their prized possessions, their toys. This moving collection portrayed a variety of images –from the stark image of a poverty-stricken child in Kenya with his single stuff monkey... to the first-world child, resplendent in clean clothes and surrounded by toys.

The collection created a well of emotion within me. It had its intended objective though – it made me think.

It made me think about the seemingly crazy amounts of toys we appear to have accumulated during the last nearly eight years of my daughter’s life. It reminded me of my favourite toy when I was a little girl.

My favourite toy, growing up (aside from the two dolls who were beside me, every day, for the first few years – my siblings will laugh now that I’ve mentioned them!), was my teddy bear. Teddy Brown, as he was known, was bought on the day of my birth, and brought to me by my brother. Somewhere in the growing up years, he got packed up and put away, forgotten.

When I was in Matric, and battling extreme exam anxiety, I was overcome with an urgent need to know where he was, immediately. My father responded in the best way possible, by reassuringly opening every cupboard in the house and ripping open every box…until Teddy Brown was returned to me.

Teddy Brown lives with us now, and observes our life from a bookshelf in my daughter’s room. Whenever I look at him, even at the age of thirty-two, I feel that same sense of calm that I think every child feels when they behold their favourite toy.

Every six months, we springclean our house and give toys, clothes and other items that are no longer needed, or fit. We donate them to a school that cares for and educates the children of low-income families. Our old clothes and toys go on to live happy lives, and I hope, become another child’s favourite possession.

As we sift through the toys though, I’m always eaten up by guilt – Do I buy too many toys for my child? Am I trying to compensate for being a busy mom? Am I wasteful? Do we really need yet another Barbie to add to the collection?

And, as we pack all the things to donate away, ready for their new owners, I feel relieved.

I showed my daughter the Gabriele Galimberti collection, and her answer summed up for me, so many reasons why I am who I am. Her response affirmed me, whilst drowning me in that all-too familiar ocean of mama concern. When I asked her, “What is your favourite toy?”

Her response?


What's your child's favourite toy?

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