J2 Content – Perspectives

A varied collection of thoughts on education and parenting

Shopping for the Perfect Toy

My Great Niece turned 1 this month so I traveled to the local toy store to pick out a toy “appropriate” for her age. I learned two things during my travels to the store. First, I am so thankful that I am not the parent of a 1 year old and second, the toy selection is much more complicated than I remember!

For clarification on the first revelation: I love kids. I love being the parent of my kids and get along with other kids as well. However, my kids are 10 and 13 and as such I’m done with the infant to toddler phase. My niece is a new Mom and is well equipped to handle all that comes with a 1 year old. I was too, but it’s easy to forget the effort raising a toddler: Diapers, annoying cartoons and toddler songs, safety outlet covers. My niece is in a world I was in a mere 10 years ago, but my world changed as my kids grew. I have not owned a safety cover for my electrical outlets in 5 years, and those annoying cartoons? Not anymore – my kids would rather watch Discovery channel or CSI.

Still, I was happy to celebrate the occasion and so I made the trek to the local store to pick out a toy for my darling little great-Niece. That brings me to revelation #2 and let me be clear on this point: I was not prepared for the toddler isle at Toys-R-Us. The first thing that confused me was that everything – I mean everything – seemed to be electronic. Second, it occurred to me that most toys in the 12-18 mo range were marketed as ‘educational’. Really? She’s turning one, not trying to decode human DNA. Plus, I had the ‘Cool Aunt’ reputation to uphold and I didn’t want to get her an educational toy! That’s what Grandma gets! What I wanted to get was something that was fun and could either make noise (but not too annoying for my Niece) or something that didn’t involve batteries.

My search was difficult. All the top toys had something to do with education: Fisher Price apparently has cornered the market with their “educational” toys. There is the “Laugh and Learn musical table”, “Laugh and Learn – Say Please tea set”. A ‘say please’ tea set? Can’t you just get the kid some plastic cups from the pantry and have a party? Now the tea set has to teach you to say please? And don’t even get me started about ‘Leap Frog’. I don’t think there’s a fun bone in that company! Of course all of those were quickly counted out because it was educational and included batteries.

I finally ended up with an old favorite: Sit and Spin. It met all my criteria. It was not educational, and did not require batteries. It didn’t make noise but I will assume the noise will come from my Great-Niece squealing in delight rather than the toy itself. Hopefully, I will be able to see my Great-Niece spinning to her hearts content – which is either until she passes out, falls off, or throws up. Good times for all and there’s not an ounce of education or electronics involved. It’s a toy and its fun. It’s perfect!

Happy birthday Kaylee – enjoy the toy, or at least the box it came in.

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