Letter to Sebastian Jaya – Now you are five!

To dear Sebastian Jaya,

Now you are five! A whole five times around the sun! Time has flown by so fast. And what a year it has been.

Pulling you out of kindergarten in mid-March and spending more than seven months in lock-down, certainly made me re-think a lot of my values; all the things important to me. This, of course, included your play and learning throughout this year, a year of lock-down. Also, the high possibility of home-schooling next year {2021}.

Day after day, month after month in lock-down, I noticed your changing interests and needs. One day you would want a carpark and the next day an airport, the next a castle. I made do by recycling all the cardboard boxes we had from ALL the online shopping I did during lock-down, to make all the constructions that you wanted for imaginative play. We were creative, imaginative and had lots of fun. At the end of the day (or sometime during the early stages of lock-down) I realised we were lacking in blocks and building materials. You have a vintage block set {that was mine as a child} at your Gran’s house that you love to play with and I love to see how your imagination works each time you play with them.

I knew that we needed some good blocks for building ALL the things, and thus began my online search for the best blocks for you, Sebby. This is when I re-discovered Grimm’s {I had discovered Grimm’s Rainbows from before you were born actually but I thought the expense was too much at that time – you would have been a baby! But, oh how I wish I had of started collecting way back then!} and I knew that I had to get you a Grimm’s Rainbow, for you are my rainbow boy after all. And now that you are five, it was definitely time.

And thus began the crazy “lock-down” online shopping – a quest to buy hand-crafted, quality, open-ended wooden toys. Now more than ever, in the middle of a global pandemic, I realised this was SO important. I was tired of all the plastic toys. Cheap plastic trucks that break in a day, noisy battery operated toys that beep all day and go through a hundred batteries, and toys that just don’t fit open-ended play. I knew in the midst of lock down 2.0 that we needed to make changes in our toy choices. I didn’t want to add to landfill anymore with cheap, plastic toys made in China. I wanted quality wooden toys that were made from sustainably sourced, certified wood that were safer and healthier for you and the environment, toys that would be kept for a lifetime.

I wanted to make this an extra special birthday for you, Sebby, after spending most of the year in lockdown, I wanted to create some magic! We needed it, you and I both.

In the past, my focus has always been to give you “experiences” rather than presents {toys}. Yes, of course, you still received lots of presents for birthday and Christmas but I’d always ensure there was an “experience” present for your birthday; like the Melbourne Zoo or the Sesame Street Circus Spectacular performance, which we took you to last year. But, also, and highly important to me is an annual overseas holiday. This is where we have invested the most money for you, Sebastian. I know with previous years when we’d discuss your birthday and/or Christmas presents, we’d always say; “and he’s getting an overseas holiday too!” so presents weren’t too over the top.

Although we were very lucky with a holiday to Vanuatu in January 2020, I knew that there would be no more holidays this year and I suspect no holidays next year either and probably the following year too. So, I justified the lashing out on expensive hand-crafted wooden toys by the fact that if we can’t travel and we are spending more time at home {whether through a personal choice of home-schooling or a forced state Covid lockdown} then we should enjoy this time at home and be surrounded by beautiful wooden toys for playing and learning. Toys that would make my heart sing, and hopefully yours too. Toys to be treasured for many generations to come. Sebby, these precious toys will always be kept so that they can be passed down to your children and hopefully their children too. Toys that were collected from all over the place to bring joy and colour to our worlds during a year of Covid lockdowns. A year I will never forget. A year the whole world will never forget. But through all the darkness of 2020, I just wanted to fill ours with rainbows and colour.

And so began my collection of quality hand-crafted wooden toys for you, Sebby. The first Grimm’s item I purchased was the ‘Celebration Ring’ and a variety of decorations, as I felt {and still feel} that it’s so important to celebrate the passing of time – the changing of the seasons, birthdays, Easter, Christmas. This is just accentuated even more when in lock-down at home over a long Winter for many many months. I wanted to create a special place on our dining table to celebrate the changing of the seasons and the cycles of the year.

Our first decorating of the Grimm’s Celebration Ring was for your fifth birthday, I just wanted something extra special for you this year, Sebby. I’m sure we are going to use it a lot {I’m already excited to decorate it for Christmas Advent but I’m holding off until December 1st}.

I then purchased the Grimm’s Large Rainbow Tunnel {something I have ALWAYS wanted to buy for you!} and also the Semi’s and Building Boards. I then went on to purchase a few more bits and pieces {some pre-loved} to expand on our building pieces; natural bridges, fire stacker, marbles, Rainbow Friends, Convertible cars, Leonardo Sticks, Weather Set, Small Stepped Pyramid and Grapat Rainbow Tomtens. {Also, ‘Way to Play’ Roads – non-wooden toy but I knew you’d love them and get a lot of use out of them!}.

All this for you {us} to create new open-ended imaginative small worlds! I realised that the Rainbow Tunnel and the Natural Bridges were REALLY THE PERFECT present for you, Seb, as you love riding your scooter around the tunnels and bridges of St Kilda Junction, so it was a no-brainer to add these things into your open-ended play.

This brings me to the point of open-ended play/imaginative play – we’ve always been big believers of open-ended play and our open-ended play began with Thomas and Friends, from a young age you began playing with Thomas and Friends and it’s always been a firm favourite of yours. You can play trains every day and you never get bored, knowing that each time we take out the trains and tracks we will build a different set up every time, ensuring endless imaginative play where you can play for hours on end.

So, I also wanted to build on this, your love of open-ended play with trains, by introducing new elements and expanding your imagination and play even more.

I’m not sure who was more excited for your birthday; me or you?! It was an “iso” birthday, we were still in lockdown and so we celebrated just the three of us. A busy morning opening your presents; the Grimm’s and Grapat wooden toys, a LEGO train and station and tracks and some new books and clothes. A morning of building and playing.

We went out for a walk/scooter ride to get some lunch and in the afternoon we went to Booran Reserve – a new playground to us. After all these months of lockdown, this place felt like a theme park to us. You loved it! You played on all the equipment and got soaked at the water feature. Oh the joy on your face. Priceless.

When we got home, it was cake time. Your Dada had spent hours making your requested Rainbow Cake. So your Dada set to making you a layered Rainbow Piñata Cake – we decorated it with LEGO mini-figures. It was quite the spectacular cake and you didn’t try it at all. We did though. 😉

It was a happy “Rainbow” birthday, Sebby, it may have been a hard year but your birthday – your special day – was filled with joy, love, happiness and hugs. Of course, leading up to the day and on the day of your fifth birthday, I had mixed emotions, I think a Mama is allowed this. Watching my baby grow up into a five year old, a little tall boy, and you have grown so much this year, Seb. And I feel grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to watch you grow and learn for another year. Magic! YOU make my heart so so happy, my Sebby.

I’ve also already got some secret Grimm’s goodies stashed away for Christmas – I can’t wait to add more possibilities to our open-ended play. The count down is on now for the long awaited Christmas. I’m keen to see the end of 2020 – and although I don’t know what 2021 will hold for us {or the world}, I just know that I want 2020 over and done with.

And whatever next year does hold, we are prepared this time with the most beautiful hand-crafted wooden toys, which will provide us with endless play and learning. And most importantly; joy and togetherness – so important to me!

Happy fifth birthday my sweet Rainbow boy, I love you to the moon and back, and I am so so grateful for you, my beautiful cheeky Sebby.

One more thing to say … “I love you!” {your favourite quote!}

Love always, Mama xxx

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