Hat tip to Ned Hickson for inspiring this one…..
Before you pull out the consumer rating magazines to figure out if the toy you are about to buy your child will last , stop for a moment and consider if you want it to. In making that decision, you should also consider the form of the toy’s demise.
This is an especially important consideration if the toy is electronic and makes electronic noises.We had more than one “talking” book, that instead of dying in the expected way—“reading” slower, softer, missing words or pages—just began to read incessantly. Do you know how many couch cushions you have to put on top of a talking book in order not to hear it? I do. That’s my point. I shouldn’t. But it could be worse; the talking book could still be talking.
One Christmas, my youngest won a talking “Ferbie.” We put it on top of an armoire planning to save it until he was old enough for it. It sat there quietly for fourteen months before totally freaking me out one dark and stormy night when my husband was away and the kids were asleep, by using its otherworldly voice to demand “Feed me!” It took me a full ten minutes to figure out that there wasn’t a hungry poltergeist in the house. At least not that night. Following suit shortly thereafter, the rocking horse in the basement started neigh-ing one morning at 2 am. Since poltergeists rarely neigh like horses, that one didn’t scare me as much.
Of course I admit that my husband and I were slow in adapting loud-electronic-toy-coping-skills. We should have copied an engineer friend who had a clever system for dealing with obnoxious toys. He’d study his son playing with the toy, scratch his chin, strike a pondering engineer pose, and say, “Son, let me see that toy. It’s not sounding right to me. I think it’s about to break.” While “inspecting” the toy, he’d slip the batteries out, and promise to “fix” the toy later.
Long-lasting toys that are too large can also be problematic. If they are not quickly outgrown or broken, they’ll be in your house forever, taking up gobs of space. You could end up like my husband trying to squeeze into your car in your garage, whilst Fussball table rods poke into your back. In his Sunday flashback blog, Ned Hickson mentioned the lung power required for monstrous inflatables. Ned may not yet know this, or might not have known when he originally composed the piece) but those enormous inflatables last forever, requiring frequent re-inflation or storage. Consider the following pictures of my seventeen year old son on his fifteen year old Shamu.
On the other hand, toys that don’t last can also cause heart ache when they break and have to be thrown out. Make sure your kids understand that only broken toys leave the household forever. My sister once suffered from some confusion on that issue, thinking that broken little sisters might be thrown out, but that’s a story for a different day.
© Laura Hedgecock 2013
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