Sunday, August 26, 2007

Boy Toys

What do seven, soon to be eight-year olds play with? If anyone has an eight-year-old boy or has ever had a eight-year-old boy, I’d like to know what they play with. Other than video games or sports, what do they enjoy doing? My son will be eight in October and if you were to ask him what he wanted. One of his top picks would be a 2007 San Antonio map book.

My son has Asperger’s Syndrome and so some of his interests are unusual. He’s enjoyed a lot of the boy toys throughout the years- trains, cars, Bob the Builder. He still plays trains with his younger brothers a little, mostly making train layouts for them, but he’s outgrown them. And, to be honest, I have no idea what kinds of toys he likes right now. One of his most prized possessions is his 2006 San Antonio map book. He studies it intently in the car whenever we go anywhere. Sometimes, he even brings it in the house and looks at it for long periods-up to 45 minutes. He loves maps and he’s amazingly good at reading them.

He’s my little GPS system in my car. He can get me anywhere in San Antonio. He just looks up the street in the map and tells me how to get there. I rely on him a lot because I’m so bad at directions. If I don’t have him with me and I’m going somewhere for the first time, I will probably get lost. I rely on him almost too much sometimes. Recently, we were going to a minor league baseball stadium where we’ve been to only a couple of times. Of course, we asked my son to help us get there, so he was guiding us with his map. When we took a major highway- I-10, he got very agitated. “It’s the wrong I-10,” he cried. How can there be another I-10? It’s I-10. Somehow, it was the wrong I-10. I still don’t understand how we got on the wrong one, but he guided us a different way and we made it only a few minutes late. Anyway, he’s a lifesaver. We should always trust him because he’s always right. Sometimes, I doubt him and take the way I think only to find out I went the wrong way.

Anyway, he’s quite amazing. One day, my husband asked him where a certain high school was. One none of us had heard of; there are a lot of high schools in San Antonio. He knew exactly what page it was on and where it was. He randomly knows where almost every school is and I wouldn’t be surprised if he knew all the streets. He even knows exactly what page a certain street is on. He has an amazing memory; that’s part of the Asperger’s Syndrome.

His birthday is coming up and I want to get him a toy he will enjoy. Somehow, buying him a new map doesn’t seem right; it should be something for a child. At least, we’ll wait for the 2008 map, no sense in getting a 2007 one now. So, please help. What do boys that age like to play with? Other than doing stuff on the computer, he’s not interested in toys. We went to Toys R Us the other day and I asked him to look around for something. He couldn’t come with something to buy. He almost settled on a wooden Thomas the Tank Engine train, but I told him he’s too old for that. I wanted him to buy something more age-appropriate. Like what? I don’t know. He’s my oldest, so my other two are still playing with trains. I need to get him interested in something other kids his age like to play with. Other kids just don’t get it when he wants to show them on the map where their school is.


Stephanie Humphreys said...

My son was always pretty different from the other boys. He never liked trucks or trains or anything "boy". I tried for years to get him to play with things the other boys played with, but it was always like beating my head against a wall.

We finally decided to go with what he likes. We got him a learning chess set around the time he turned 7. He loved that. He also really likes science, so if we can find science related toys, he is happy.

I also think that if your son still likes trains and can play the trains with his little brothers, there is no reason to discourage that. Trains can turn into a lifelong hobby.

I guess what I learned with my son is that I can't mold him into a "regular" boy. He never will like cars, but playing chess with him a and watching him learn through his science toys and books is wonderful as I watch his personality emerge. And just because I get him the right toys doesn't mean he will enjoy using them with the other boys. Good luck on getting the right gift. Let us know what you decide.

Robyn Heirtzler said...

It actually sounds like Stephanie's son and mine are quite a bit alike.

My son just turned 11 and we got him a new Pirates of the Caribbean chess set, which has been a big hit with him and the entire family! We got his first set when he was nine, I think, along with it we got him a book titled, One Move at a Time, written by Orrin Hudson, a master chess player. The book teaches children chess moves, but it also relates chess to real life. He has loved it! We've had some unique issues with this son and I do think chess is very good for him.

We also buy a lot of science toys for him, the latest is a remote controlled light switch he has to put together himself.

Stephanie Black said...

Do you think he might enjoy Legos? My sons have a lot of Legos.

I am so impressed with your son's map-reading genius. I'm terrible with maps and can get lost anywhere.

Marcia Mickelson said...

Thanks for the comments. I think he would like Chess too, but I've kind of put it off. I also think I'll encourage more Legos. He likes them, but doesn't play them very often. Maybe a new set might motivate him. Thanks.