Monday, November 26, 2012

Playing Smart

Dear Ian,

I am a toy snob.  I don't know of any other way to say it, so there it is.  I discriminate amongst toys. And I am sorta particular about the toys with which you play.  I'm going to hold my snobbish head up, nose in the air, though and proclaim that my toy-snootery is justified.  After all, you are a child, and a child's work is play.  It only makes sense to me that the tools that you work with enhance you and your learning rather than just be there.  That being said, I work hard to make sure you show appreciation for any gift you receive, therefore keeping my hoity-toity-ness on the Down Low.  But bear in mind that Daddy and I have already conferred with Santa, and we think he's on board with our idea. 

I like to look at toys and hold them against a by-gone era's standards of usability.  Namely this:  If it was around in the 1950's or looks like it could have been from the 1950's, it's probably okay.  I mean, look at this:
I'm actually sort of afraid of this thing.
Holy macaroni.  What in the world is this thing?  According to Google, it's one of the top toys of 2012.  And what in the world DOESN'T it do?  It plays music.  It plays games.  It speaks in multiple languages.  It walks, it talks...  But what does it DO?  What is it's purpose?  To your snobby Mommy, this thing does everything for you.  It does nothing TO you.  It is the perfect toy for passivity, which as the mom of a boy with seemingly limitless energy, goes against my religion.  Sure, you might learn another language.  Sure, you would probably enjoy watching it toddle up and down the floor.  But once it has demonstrated all those things, what's left?  Just a shiny, plastic robot guy who will most likely shout out random things as his batteries die.  Toy Tourrettes. 

So, we compare today's top toy with the top toys of the 1950's.  According to the magic of the internet, the top ten toys from the 1950's were Barbies, Play-doh, Frisbees, Tonka Trucks, Matchbox Cars, Yahtzee, Skateboards, Hula Hoops, Mr. Potato Head and Pez.  Shock!  Gasp!  All those toys are still around today!  They have stood the test of time!  And they are all toys that you have to use to get use out of them.  You actually have to sort of engage your brain or body to enjoy them.  And there are other toys like Legos, that came around later, but have the same sort of "feel" to them that I just love.  Not all today's toys are terrible.  Just a shocking number.  Especially with all the early childhood education experts and such out there.  Those first five years of life are so invaluable.  Then what's with the crappy toys?

They are smart, though, those toy makers.  They know that shiny sells.  Cool is King.  Anything that makes 770 noises in different languages HAS to be awesome!  But I think kids are smarter.  They know what's up.  I have heard more than one parent lament that, after all the batteries, miniscule parts and adult assembly required, their precious pearls dove headfirst into playing with the box their new fabulousness came in rather than play with the toy itself.

I am sure that you will receive in your lifetime toys that make your Daddy and I cringe.  You already have a few.  And we never keep them from you.  Those toys are in your room, on a shelf, asking you to play with them.  But you rarely do.  I think they put you into sensory overload as much as they put me into it.  Which is good.  Proof that you are actually my kid, I guess.  Now, please keep in mind that every parent and every child is different.  I am by no means advocating that every parent out there needs to be a toy b*tch like me.  This is just how I see it, and honestly how I prefer my home.  There's this level of noise that I can tolerate, and for reasons unknown, toy manufacturers theses days just HAVE to push that limit. 

So, yes.  Call me a snob.  Call me a fuddy-duddy.  But my rant is now finished, and I need to go clean up the cardboard box spaceship and building blocks that you left in the living room after playing with them rather than your noisy toys.  Ahem.  I rest my case...

The Toy Snob
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