As a child, I was blessed to have the opportunity to handle wood first hand. My grandfather was a carpenter and his garage was a wood work shop. From an early age, I was taught how to use tools safely: measure twice, cut once; glue, then nail; plaining, sanding, finishing. It is natural for kids to make their own toys from what they find around. Since I had basic wood working tools, it was natural for me to build fun little things from wood.
We live I an industrialized world built with steel, glass and concrete, but most of a child’s world is filled with plastic. Plastic is derived from petroleum, abundant and cheap.
When my wife was completing in midwifery training in St Jacobs, Ontario, we would go to a restaurant in town that specialized in pies. In the waiting room there were wood toys to play with and wood toys on the shelves. It was at that time that it dawned on me the profound beauty of the wooden toy. Whether they are as simple as blocks for stacking, or an expertly carved truck or plane, wooden toys, like the essence of ‘toy’ itself, is a blank canvas for the imagination, and comes with the potential to become anything the child imagines.
As my daughters grew, I made a concerted effort to incorporate wooden toys into their lives. From blocks we made castles, towers and bridges. Wooden trains running on wooden tracks. Baseball bats and wagons and sleds. The scope of wooden toys is endless. Wooden toys are more durable than their plastic imitators. Wooden toys can be made by you and me. Growing trees and harvesting wood is apart of a sustainable future; because without a sustainable future, there will be no future.
Certainly not a future like the happy childhood that I remember, and like the present that I hope to continue to provide to my children, and hope to someday provide to their children.