Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Every letter makes a sound! S says SSSSS!

Well, I have successfully consumed a glass of wine and 3 snack-sized boxes of Junior Mints so I think I'm ready to begin. Hard to pull myself away from the dinner-time TV, though. It's the only TV I get these days, what with me being one of those parents... you know, the ones who refuse to let their kid watch children's television or eat non-nutritious foods. It's not that I'm opposed to those things (if I never let the boy watch "Sesame Street", how's he supposed to learn Spanish?) but I know me: 5 minutes will turn into 30 minutes will turn into "Mama needs to take a trip to Tijuana. Here's the remote, kid." So I clamp down. No TV until age 3. No sugar/salt until you're (insert randomly chosen age). And most importantly, NO ELECTRONIC TOYS THAT TALK. This is a total holdover from my nanny days. It was a Dora the Explorer jobbie that did me in. After the 8,0000th perky-voiced repetition ("Maracas! El maracas!") I vowed never to let my child play with anything that required batteries. His toys would be wooden. Creative. Preferably Amish. Which worked fine until he started dumping out the entire contents of his toy box, staring forlornly at the pile of boring. That, combined with his obsession with button pushing (TV on. TV off. TV on. TV off. On. Of. On. Off. On. Off) led his father and I to conclude that he needed something new to play with. Something with buttons. Something that required batteries. So we went to the massive Toys R Us - the one with the indoor ferris wheel - and wandered the aisles. My plan was to get an old favorite, something wooden-esque, maybe a farm with a barn door that mooed when you opened it. Instead I found plastic. Lots and lots of plastic. And noise. Everything talks! Bless the voiceover artists who've lent their gifts to Elmo and Dora and John The Farmer (my favorite Fisher-Price toy has gone electric!) but I don't need you anywhere near my house. Unfortunately my son didn't get the memo because by the time we hit the Leap Frog section he was a goner. And this was no minor infatuation I'm talking about here - this was full-blown, grabby-grabby, where have you been all my life L-O-V-E. I let him play with each one so he could pick the toy he wanted (well, the one he sort of wanted. His first choice, the unbearably obnoxious Leap Frog Phonics Radio, was nixed immediately). Eventually he chose (clutched, horded) the Leap Frog Telephonics. It has a keyboard and whenever you push a letter it sings and chats in a vaguely 1940's telephone operator voice.

We decided to return it the next day.

Unfortunately my son didn't get the memo.

Baby B spied it as I was slipping it into the stroller and let out a series of yelps that can best be described as orgasmic. Then he slap-slap-slapped himself over to wrech his beloved toy out of his mother's evil, battery-denying hands, and spent the next half-hour pushing the letter Z to show her how much he loved her. ("Z says ZZZZ!")

Raise your hands if you let your kids play with crap. Now raise your hands if you were horrified to discover how much you enjoyed the crap when it got you 20 minutes of free time. (Oh, the hypocrisy.)


Fraulicious said...

It's HARD not to get toys with batteries. I just got a few hand-me-downs. One of them being a train. My daughter was quite happy pushing it around. I put in batteries to see what it did. What a mistake. Now she just turns it on/off/on/off ... And that st*pid song it plays gets stuck in my head all night. Sigh. I think when the batteries run out they will not be replaced!

On the positive side, my daughter does enjoy some of the simple toys, too. She keeps climbing into a box that used to contain a set of books. Stacking blocks are great. I LOVE stacking them. Hours of entertainment for me, and her, too, because she keeps destroying my towers. :)

Margot said...

OMG Ali, I hear you loud and clear! I, too, swore I'd be a non-battery-only toy type of mom, having spent waaaay too much time being aurally abused by my nephews blooping bleeping crashing EVERYTHINGs.

But...since my sister is the gracious provider of everything hand-me-down for our Squirrel, that means we get lots of plasticky bleeping blooping crashing toys. If it's got a battery, she bought it for her kids, and now we own it. Baby Einstein can still suck it, as far as I'm concerned--no volume control!

But just last week, as the Squirrel was sitting in his big ol' quiet pile of boring (fab description btw), I pulled out this little VTech car-like dashboard thingy with a steering wheel that has a honking horn, ticking turn signal, and other noises. He absolutely went ga-ga over it, and caught on to the honking horn immediately. Thank god it has volume control, too. It bought me 15 or 20 minutes of a completely engrossed child, which means I got to spend 20 minutes *not* stooped over helping him walk around. My lower vertebrae and I agree that Mr. Dashboard can stick around!

Ali said...

I've got to get some stacking blocks. Right now he's in the chucking phase though - put it in his hand, it's getting thrown - so I think I'll hold off a bit. (I didn't even THINK about the toll on my back when he starts walking, Frau! Aw man...)

I'm so envious that you guys have hand-me-down toys. I feel so crappy adding to the landfill problem but there's no place to get secondhand toys around here. (Plus there's the bed bug issue.) I've heard that some cities have Toy Libraries where you can borrow toys just like books but I haven't found anything like that here. (Hey, Big City readers, you know about anything like that?)

And Baby Einstein CAN suck it. No volume control? Masochists!

(BTW, if anyone has any old board books they want to get rid of, I'll happily pay for postage...)

Missy said...

Are you coming to T-town at Christmas? If so you are welcome to peruse our board book library and take whatever you wish back with you.

You might also look in to toys that he can put things into, like put a ball in and it goes down a slide and comes back out. We had a couple of somethings like that. They did use batteries, but the only thing the batteries did was play music when you put the ball down the chute. So if those batteries were "dead" it still worked. I may have some resources around here to for "toys" you can make with stuff around the house.

Ali said...

Alas, no T-town trip for us this year. Flights were craaaazy and layovers were even worse (4 hours?!) so we're staying here. Too bad - seeing you AND getting books is a damn tempting combo.

...Sharon said...

Glad to hear your concerns because there are too many awful toys out there. I have horror stories about the glut of toys my kid grew up with. It was insane.

But she turned out just fine. Right? You know her, she's the one wearing shiny green frog-eye rain boots on her way to school each day. That is grad school.

It seems the toys that really interest little ones are usually not even toys. Pots and pans. Wooden spoons. A plastic milk jug with wooden clothes pins (the ones without metal of course). I remember "Bella" (or was that Matt?) falling to sleep while playing in a kitchen cabinet that was cleared out and made into the kitchen play-land. Cute. (But note the manufactured "toy" versions of pot and pans never got the same reaction as the real thing.)

So what wine goes with Junior Mints?

Ali said...

I've tried to get him interested in "regular" toys (pots, measuring cups) but they become dangerous quick. Pots flip over and gouge tipping baby's face (he still has a scar), measuring cups have long, eye-gouging handles, as do wooden spoons...

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Actually, all noise making toys can be instantly given a volume control with a single piece of tape. Find the speaker holes and cover. Voila! Muted noisy thing.

We had a friend constantly threaten to give us noisy toys and we constantly threaten to de-friend him. Seems to have worked, since we have few noisy toys. In general I don't worry about buying crap toys since my MIL provides all the toys a child could ever want and WAAAY more than her PARENTS could ever want. This explains why there is a plethora of toys in the garage in bags and boxes.

My personal favorite are the Little People. I think it's the lack of them in MY childhood that makes me want them. Some of those (the zoo) have noisy parts that babies cab bang on ad infinitum, but it's not so bad. When it's muffled.

Good luck!

Twenty minutes of crap toy is still 20 minutes of heaven! My 20 minutes are up!

Missy said...

OOOhhh!! Little people are the BEST!! We love little people and their general lack of noise.

I will go through the board book coffers and send you out a bunch. It may not be for a few weeks tho. Got get this other play done and then I might have something that resembles a normal life again.

Really bummed to hear that you guys aren't going to be able to make it out this year. But at least we are coming in June! Yay!

The wee one will practically be a grown man by then.

Ali said...

Ooh, what are these "Littles" of which you speak? They sound promising.

Missy said...

Little people are made by fischer price. They do void the no plastic rule, but they are just sets of little figures. They have all different kinds of playsets, farms, houses, carnivals, buses, planes. My kids would play with them for hours.

Bern said...

I was/am an no batteries, no t.v. mom. My car has a "granola" sticker on it for a reason. However some toys that made noise were VERY helpful. Especially ones that were imitations of things I use, i.e. cell phone, and car keys, because that way I could keep mine slobber-free, and kiddos could feel like mama. Little people are great (but they multiply in the dark..)I had the blue house when I was a kid.(P.S My daughter has two Barbies. I caved....)

Ali said...

See? Now I want all this stuff! Anybody have old Little People/faux cell phones/car keys they want to donate to the cause? Free shipping! (And I will look forward with gratitude and excitement for those books, Miss, whenever you get around to shipping them. Let me know what it costs and DON'T RUSH.)

And I swear I'm working on a new post...

elisava said...

i was thinking about your finger food commentary. here's how we "solve" it.

you make a big batch of mashed potaoes. i know it's a bitch, but you can do it just once a week...get the good potatoes, boil those suckers, add milk and butter. this is your stick 'em for a week (you can see where i am going with this!).

during the week, you take your leftovers... dice the meat, veggies, bread... and mix them in with the mashed taters. voila! sticky food that he will (hopefully) eat, and using up your leftovers to boot! if he balks, try adding more butter. it's easier than having them fly alot of peas around!

i hope this helps.

Ali said...

Hey, E - clearly great minds think alike because I TOTALLY did this last week! Worked great. Good suggestion!

Luckily he's gotten the handle on food grippage so now all he wants to do is feed himself. Lunch takes HOOOOURS!

Colleen said...

We have lots of Little People, too--the farm, the house, the plane, the school bus, the minivan, the zoo, the pirate ship, the parking garage--and even though my kids are getting a little old for them, whenever we have kid company of any age, they get out ALL the Little People and set up a whole city in the basement and all play for hours. I think I will keep them for my grandkids, as my parents kept ours and the kids love to play with them at Grandma's house. Ali, you might try e-bay, sometimes you can get a good deal on a whole big lot of them. And we dealt with the noise issue by just removing the batteries or turning them off (all Little People noisemakers have a small, discreet, on/off switch. Love it!)

Ali said...

That's it. I'm sold.