Published in Bangkok Post on 26 February 2011
HEART & CRAFT
Suchada Tansirimas’s toys for her son are made with her household goods, two hands and artsy heart, writes Napamon Roongwitoo
Motherhood can unleash many great hidden skills, and for Suchada Tansirimas, it is her creativity and craft-making talent. Out of a simple intention to keep her son entertained while she works at home, Suchada turns ordinary household goods into fun, one-of-a-kind toys that match her son’s interest du jour.
“I started making toys for Bhoom when he was around 2 years old. I work at home and I have to take care of my son by myself, so I have to find a way to keep him busy while I focus on my work!,” said the full-time work-at-home web designer and full-time mother.
After looking for books about making toys for children to no avail, she started to look at things around her, such as plastic bags, used paper, old magazines and even a yoga mattress as potential toy-making materials.
“First, I made some toys and posted on them my Facebook page. My friends became interested and I got lots of questions, so I finally made a blog to explain how to create these toys. They forwarded my blog to their friends, and their friends passed it on to other friends. That’s how it became well-known,” she said, referring to her personal blog which has thousands of fans.
Her ideas come from things around her as well as what her son is interested in at the moment. For example, she made a parking lot out of a shoe box because her son has many small cars. “I had seen a mother make a doll house using a box, so I thought why not? I could make a parking lot for my son’s cars. I even bought traffic signs to make it look more real and relevant to his daily life,” she explained.
According to Suchada, it is better to make your own toys than buying ready-made ones _ one reason being that you can customise them to be learning tools about real life. “Ready-made parking lots are available, but they are usually imported so the signs aren’t like those we really see on Thai roads. [With the parking lot I made] I could teach him simultaneously what these signs mean, and when he sees them on the road he would know,” she said.
Another beauty of toy-making is the time parents and kids spend together. Suchada cherishes not just the toys she’s made, but the making of each piece, which her son also participated in. “The toys that I make might not be as pretty as the ones in the department store, but the time I spend making it with my son is so precious. I also feel somewhat like a hero when he asks me for something and I can make it with my own hands. I hope this will show him that I’m there for him if he ever needs anything, and when he grows up he can come to me whenever he has something on his mind,” said the mother of the 3-year-old boy.
She believes that children do not care much whether a toy is beautiful. What matters is that the toy matches their interest and has an emotional value. “You can take your children to learn arts and crafts in class, but it won’t be the same. These classes are aimed at teaching them how to make beautiful art and that limits their imagination. Things that are too real sometimes leave no room for make-believe and imaginative mind,” said Suchada.
She does buy toys for her son sometimes, but only on special occasions. She feels that children do not feel they lack something until they are given too much and are suddenly deprived of that overabundance. “If we buy toys for our children all the time, once we stop, they will feel they are missing something. If we make a habit of buying toys only as special treats, not just randomly, they will know they should not expect new toys all the time,” said Suchada, adding that she is still experimenting with this idea of child-rearing.
It has apparently worked well so far, as Bhoom is a very well-behaved toddler with a pleasant manner. He does not scream when he does not get what he wants, and he obeys what his parents say. “I try to use reason with him instead of telling him what to do. I also tell him the truth. I won’t say he shouldn’t do this or that because police will arrest him or whatever threat some people would use. I will just tell him that he should not do it because he might hurt himself. Children can understand simple logic. There’s no need to tell them lies,” said Suchada.
In this family, another favourite activity is going out to see the world. Suchada and her husband, Jatuporn Tansirimas, enjoy taking their son to see art performances such as street shows and mime acts because they want him to realise what one’s body is capable of.
“We don’t want him to find happiness in material things because that way he can never be truly happy with himself. If one constantly needs a toy or whatever to be happy, one will have to keep looking and acquiring new things,” said Suchada, whose work involves cyberspace and technology, and therefore well acquainted with the superficial allure of the IT world.
“We want Bhoom to know that there is endless potential in just his hands and feet. We want him to see the world beyond shopping malls and playgrounds. These days, people overlook things that humans can do because technology is so prevalent.”