Monday, November 29, 2004

Toys For Tots...Or Are They?

Every time I go to another mom’s house and see the toys they have, I feel guilty, like my child is toy-deprived. Never mind that he’s only five months old and just starting to really enjoy his toys (his favorite is his piano/exersaucer. He gets to stand up in it and spin around, lighting up piano keys and making music, rattling and shaking things. He’s like a little king ruling over his universe, at least for about ten minutes until he realizes I’m not paying full attention to him and that’s the end of that).

Besides this toy/babysitter, my little munchkin has boxes overflowing with stuffed animals and rattles and things that make very high-pitched music when squeezed or moved. But it’s never enough. At three months it began – Other Moms telling me how much little Timmy just loved his Wiggle Ball That Did Algebra Proofs and Taught Him Beethoven At The Same Time or that little Sofie couldn’t get enough of her Culturally-Sensitive, Word-Building, Encyclopedic Puff Bear That Was Teaching Her Seven Languages And Some Psychology On The Side. All this left me to wonder what I was doing wrong. But come on, let’s be honest here. What three-month-old baby actually plays with toys? None of them! They may reach for them. They may bat at them. But they don’t actively play with them. And at the risk of making lots of moms furious, let me just say this: if you think your newborn enjoys these toys, you may be, how to put it gently, reading into it a bit (translated: supplying your little one with characteristics he/she likely will not have for another month or year or decade). Daniel was fascinated with things like fingers and faces and, of course, boobs. But not toys.

Now, of course, it’s different. Everything is new and amazing. The dog. Random people. Mirrors. Dirty socks. And toys (though not all of them. Not yet. One big green frog comes to mind that sings when you press its foot Daniel cries every time I bring it out and, since I’m beginning to despise that peppy green annoyance, I am proud of my son’s discriminating taste). This means that I’m now on the lookout for those Toys That Teach. Sounds wonderful. Right? NOT SO FAST. The moment I clearly remember as a toy turning point happened during a trip to Babies R’Us, which started off innocently enough and ended with a major meltdown in front of a wall of supposedly educational toys. I’d begun by ooohing and aaahing over they toys and ended up shouting things along the line of “THIS ONE IS BIGGER AND BRIGHTER AND THAT’S BETTER THAN THE SMALL ONE EVEN THOUGH IT LIGHTS UP BUT THE OTHER ONE SPINS OH MY GOD I’M NOT WORTHY OF BEING A PARENT I CAN’T EVEN PICK OUT THE RIGHT TOY WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME HOW WILL DANIEL’S IQ SOAR AND HOW WILL HE SUCCEED IF I DON’T GET THE EXACT TOY BUT I LIKE THIS TOY BECAUSE IT’S BIG. BIG BIG BIG. AAAARRRGH…”

It wasn’t enough that I had to pick from right brained vs left brained toys. Within those categories were things like creativity development and art awareness and logical reasoning and spatial acknowledgement and how to go from projectile peeing to brain surgery in one day. If I didn’t pick The Perfect Toy Daniel would never be able to reason or be creative or formulate a peace plan for the Middle East or come up with a cure for wrinkles. If I didn’t buy every single one he would only develop in the way promoted by The One Toy I Had Decided To Buy. What was it going to be The person my son would be depended on this choice!

Perhaps I was still sleep deprived at that time. Perhaps I’m not the only one to be guilted into buying piles of toys. If not for Michael, I would’ve bought them all. But I settled on one (yes, it was after the meltdown and after Michael rationally pointed out that these weren’t around in Einstein’s time or in Michelangelo’s time, that Dali and Ben Franklin likely didn’t have any of these neon plastic nightmares). And the toy? It sucked. That’s right. IT SUCKED. I say it loud. I say it proudly. I returned it the next day and was very happy to reply to the question of why it was being returned with the following answer – BECAUSE. IT’S. THE. WORST. TOY. EVER. I said it slowly. I enunciated it in case they hadn’t heard me. And now I’m cured. No more falling for fancy marketing. No more looking for answers in the promises of pre-packaged plastic playthings. At least until the next time some well-meaning mommy friend says “Little Boo Boo just loves this rattle. It doubles as a law school application.”

40 Comments:

At November 30, 2004 at 7:26 AM, Blogger Sid said...

Don't fret. Batman figures. Yeap, that way your kid will be part man .... part God :)
Lol, jk ... chill don't be so hard on yourself, you obviously love yo kid if you fret so much about his toys. Guess that should be more that 'nuff to make him an Einstein or a Dali, no?
Tc.
SId.

 
At December 3, 2004 at 7:26 PM, Blogger Ella said...

Ohhh the insanity!

I fell into the same trap! I would buy gadgets and whatzits for my little sweetie (now 9 months) and he would have nothing to do with them...and I would think that it was just a developmental thing and that he would grow into liking the toy. LOL!

It never happened.

He's more content to play with his shoes and the baby wipes box. =)

Good thing you saw through the propaganda now. At some point soon you won't be able to go to Target without your lil' darlin throwing himself in an isle floor and screaming (heaven forbid) because he wants the newest singing and dancing Elmo.

Just keep reminding yourself of how most children in the world will never see even a fraction of the toys that your kid will have.

Love your site and Good Luck!

 
At December 11, 2004 at 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

at least you are learning the lesson early! I just weeded out 75% of my 2 year old's toys to make way for Christmas. I am now crossing my fingers that family is listening to our "no toys with batteries" request.

Mandy
www.wadingthrouglife.blogspot.com

 
At December 15, 2004 at 11:59 AM, Blogger Ella said...

Mandy,

with ya on the batteries....I loathe the noise.

 
At December 18, 2004 at 6:21 PM, Blogger re-mamaed said...

Ok after dumpinng 4- big bags of toys to the thrift shop.
None of which helped Jelly face get better grades.
I love the markers and a pad of paper!Works the best for her after all the leap things and must have x-box things. No Noise making toys this year!!

 
At December 20, 2004 at 6:53 AM, Blogger Hildee said...

Thanks for making making me laugh at 6am! You write the things I think and never have time to jot down due to too much research being done on toys, carseats, etc. Keep up the great work & words of witty wisdom.

 
At January 9, 2005 at 11:27 AM, Blogger Misery said...

very nice blog! i can sooooo relate! please don't feel guilty about the toys - 5 month old babies don't need them!

 
At January 27, 2005 at 2:28 PM, Blogger Marie said...

Sigh...just remember that you and your husband will always be your child's biggest and best toy.

 
At July 19, 2005 at 10:02 PM, Blogger rina said...

I just had the same experience at Toys R Us. And, my 8 month old son wanted nothing to do with his new drum/light up/music box thingy. But, because it was bought for my son, my 2 1/2 year old daughter loves it and won't let it go.

love your site. Funny stuff!!!

 
At August 29, 2005 at 1:37 AM, Blogger Nogginworks said...

Kids love the plain stuff... Get a big toy and for sure the kids will have more fun with the box.
I have four kids myself, and my favorite toys are the ones that don't DING at you- the ones that actually make them use their little Noggins. LOL!

 
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