Plastic and Compromise
I love thrift stores. Many of my own toys as a child came from thrift stores and garage sales. Oh, the possibilities... you never know what you'll find that needs to come home with you! I was out thrifting with my kids recently and my daughter fell in love with a used and abused Snow White doll. She was covered in pink nail polish and her hair was a disaster. "Oh Mommy, she's beautiful! She has real plastic hair! Can she come home with us?!" Though I cringed a little about the "real plastic hair," I could identify with my soft-hearted girl. Snow White came home with us. After googling some doll restoration techniques she looked much better; we got her hair sorted out and amazingly enough, all the nail polish off. I was a little concerned with how she would mesh with our beloved cloth dolls. My daughter's doll Finn has been her favorite for years; would Snow White steal her place?
I shouldn't have worried. Everyone is welcome at this tea party. And Finn is happy to share her wardrobe with the newcomer. It was a pleasant surprise to find that my handmade clothes fit pretty well on these other friends!
When we were new parents we insisted on wooden and natural toys. Now, two more kids later, we've compromised on that stance. I'm drawn to Montessori and Waldorf philosophies, which both encourage a home environment full of natural materials. Traditional Waldorf dolls are made of cotton and stuffed with wool. But I can't help feeling that they can get a little all-or-nothing. Plastic toys and character toys are definitely out with them, but they are hard to avoid in our culture.
One of the things I love to do is to add a few handmade touches to a store bought or thrifted toy to make it a little bit more personal and creative- like painting a few wooden shapes for a tea party on tiny plastic dishes, or adding a beautiful handmade dress. I still love and encourage natural materials and simple playthings, but I've come to peace with the mix of toys that reside at our house.