Ben is a little young for the kind of pretend play that takes place in a play kitchen (they're usually aimed at three-year-olds), but he's a big fan of kitchen tools, knobs, and cabinets, and he spent nearly all the time we were at the Fs' in July bashing around their play kitchen. So we decided to get him one. Only, Andy being the buildy sort, we're making him one.
Yesterday was the first effort: plans made and tweaked, materials bought, construction started. Here's what it looks like so far:
I can't tell you how awesome it is to co-parent with somebody who's willing and able to build play furniture. It opens up so many possibilities. I looked at dozens of play kitchens online, and the only ones I could get enthusiastic about were the unbelievably expensive ones like this one, three hundred bucks for just the stove! Or this one, which at least you get stove and sink for your $250. There were others I could have been ok with, like this one or this one, but they all had something I objected to, however nitpicky: they looked ricketty, or had microwaves (where's the imaginative fun in pretending to reheat something?) or fake clocks (a particular peeve) or my favorite bugbear of design for littles: ungodly over-embellishment. This is a big toy that's going to be taking up visual and actual space in my house for the next two years or more -- a lot more if we have another kid -- so it mattered to me that it wasn't going to be something I learned to hate the sight of.
But Ben's kitchen is going to be great. Sturdy, in colors I don't hate. It's going to have a stove and a sink and cabinet, and if he uses it enough and wants one, we left room to add a fridge. We even had fun wandering around Lowe's yesterday, looking for bits and bobs to be repurposed. We scoffed at the package of replacement oven knobs ($20!), when little wooden discs would do just as well and look cuter, too. We plotted how to paint neat circles for burners using shelf paper and a compass (Andy being Andy, we have a compass). It's a great nexus of Andy's craftiness and mine.
This morning I searched "play kitchen" tags at Flickr, and wow. A lot of people like us are building play kitchens, and some of them are pretty fantastic. I mean, wow.