Since WEJr’s first birthday last week, it seems like our toy collection has rapidly expanded. We got him toys, both sets of grandparents got him toys, and a couple of friends also contributed to the growing pile of stuff. It’s quite cute, because he is now old enough to actually entertain himself with toys for a short period of time. Mostly, he just carries them around, chews on them, or otherwise misuses or abuses them. When he plays with them correctly (in the way they were designed), it’s completely by accident. It’s so fun to watch him figure them out, and even have preferences for certain toys. Before, it was always us trying to entertain him or distract him, but now it’s him doing it to himself. Who knew he’d become a real-live person?!?!
With the newfound collection of toys, though, I’ve come to a new depth of understanding about the toy world. Originally, I was holding the line at “no toys with batteries”, though I’ve now completely lost that fight. I now understand there are really a lot of other types of toys parents should fear and dread just as equally as battery-powered toys:
Toys that have batteries: The frustration here isn’t just that you have to replace the batteries, it’s that the time span where the batteries work and the child wants to play with the toy never totally coincide unless it’s the day the child receives the toy. Beyond that the batteries are always dead at the worst time. If you’re lucky, the toy will have some inherent value without the battery operated feature, but this is rarely the case. Prepare for tears and sadness when the toy does not function.
Toys that are in pieces or sets: With these toys, the minute the plastic wrap is removed, the toy falls apart into a million lose-able pieces. The joy of toy is for the kid to put the toy together in various configurations, but the frustration of the toy is for the parent to keep those pieces out from under sofas, coffee tables, and in the same room. Invariably, the parent ends up putting the puzzle together, putting the legos back in the bin, or putting all the other pieces away, just in time for the kid to come and dump them out all over again.
Toys that make noise: These are the toys parents regret having the most. Whenever the child figures out the noise-making capability, there will come a day when all you will hear – over and over – is that same noise. You will hear it everywhere you go. It will haunt you even when you are away from the toy and the child. You will start to hear/speak in voices of the toys until, one day, you are driven so mad that you freak out and take a sledge hammer to the toy (my approach) or quietly throw the toy away (Aud’s approach).
Vintage toys: Who doesn’t love the vintage, simple toys; blocks, trains, balls, bats, etc. These are definitely my favorite toys because of their nostalgia and because of their hipness (I’m real hip). WEJr is at the point, though, where his enjoyment of vintage toys is limited to chewing on them until the vintage, antiqued paint chips off into his mouth and teeth – which leads me to wonder if they were safely/non-toxically made…
As you can see, there is no perfect toy. All toys are meant to make a parent’s life miserable. But, they are extraordinarily necessary to keep your kid sufficiently distracted from your more expensive, adult toys that they seem to gravitate toward naturally.