With Christmas over and school due to reopen, Mud and I turned our thoughts to how on earth we were going to fit train tracks and Lego buildings into the Mudlet bedrooms. With some sadness we decided the only way to fit everything in was to pack away and move into the attic, most of the Playmobil.
Looking back over 10 years of Christmases and birthdays, I can recall every play milestone reached, enjoyed and then surpassed by first Middle Mudlet and then her younger sister. Play gyms and rattles, stacker toys and shape sorters were all too quickly tossed aside to be replaced by Fisherprice Little People, Vtech interactive toys and Lego Quatro (Lego for babies). Push along toys soon made way for ride on toys, both of which proved challenging in terms of space (or lack of it) in our cosy Victorian cottage.
This progression can also be marked by the size of the boxes the toys come in and it is notable that the older a child becomes, the smaller the boxes get (or so it seems to me). Where once brightly wrapped Christmas packages created an almost impenetrable 3ft wide border around the base of the tree, often spilling over to cover half the kitchen floor and generated enough cardboard to account for a medium sized forest, nowadays they are relatively more compact, fitting nicely under and around the tree, even though the quantity of gifts (including stocking fillers) remains more or less the same.
In time Lego Quatro gave way to Duplo and the first of the Playmobil sets found their way into the toy boxes. Elsewhere, a Thomas the Tank Engine train track was purchased and set up in Middle Mudlets’ room and she was thrilled. This set was added to one Christmas with dramatic affect with the purchase of a half price superset which literally took up half the kitchen!
Thomas and friends proved battery hungry though and it was with some relief that we carefully packed it away for storage in the attic, after the arrival on the scene of Muds’ old, 12v electric Lego Train set which, amazingly, still ran some 20 plus years after he first got it.
In Middle Mudlets’ room, Lego Duplo inevitably began to be replaced with ‘proper’ Lego and Little Mudlet found herself the sole owner of the larger bricks for a time but it wasn’t long before she too wanted grown up Lego and the large box of Duplo was relegated to outside storage and was eventually sold to a work colleague of Eldest Mudlet.
Even with the Lego itself you can mark the passage of time with the girls progressing from needing quite a bit of help from us during the building process to needing no help at all (Middle Mudlet) and minimal assistance (Little Mudlet). Also the type and difficulty of model requested, certainly in the case of our 10 year old, is indicative of the speed with which the girls are growing and developing, the Lego Creator Parisian Restaurant with its age classification of 16+ being a case in point. Middle Mudlet has risen through the ranks of basic cars and buildings, honed her skills on various City and Atlantis kits and now sits comfortably and confidently amid the realms of free build in which she draws upon her amazing imagination, eye for detail and model design and build skills, to produce fabulous free form models and scenes. She has also found her niche amongst the sci-fi fantasy Chima sets and has all but ignored the world of ‘girl’ Lego (aka Lego Friends), although she will occasionally condescend to play with her younger sister in Heartlake City world.
Which brings us rather neatly back to packing away the main Playmobil sets, including those which used to belong to Mud. With space at a premium and train tracks and buildings needing to be relocated to their bedrooms, I spent a couple of hours photographing (for rebuild purposes if needed in the future), dismantling and packing into boxes, quite a significant part of the girls’ childhood. Being a couple of years younger, Little Mudlet kept a few smaller bits, not to mention all the Playmobil animals out but these are in toy boxes and with several toy buildings now cleared and stored, she has room to display her Lego Friends Ranch, Mall and other buildings and sets from the range.
So it only remains for the boxes of Playmobil to take up residence in the attic and for Mud to make changes to the shelving and worktop space in the girls rooms, for this latest transition to be complete and yet another play milestone to be grasped and embraced. My little girls are growing up into independent young people, who know what they want and like and I am rightly proud of them but a part of me is sad to see the speed with which they are changing and longs for those days of Duplo and Fisherprice Little People and the sight of Thomas the Tank Engine and friends, chugging around the room, guzzling batteries.