Thursday, September 10, 2015

Toys That Seem Like a Good Idea But Actually Aren't

What is one of the most fun parts of having young kids? No, it's not the parent and toddler parking at the mall, although that is pretty sweet in the sub-zero weather. As a side note: owner of the two-seater sports car parked there,you are not fooling anyone. Actually now that I am thinking about it a lot of things are fun about having young kids, like having an excuse to eat ice cream in the middle of the day, the ability to play arcade games that I - I mean you secretly love without looking like a pedophile, the ability to chase the ice cream man without looking like a crazed stalker, the ability to swing on swings at the park without looking like a loser, and a chance to eat free birthday cake.

If this post has taught you anything so far it is that I am actually a child in an adult's body, but thirty-two-year-old women can't go around playing arcade games, unless we are "suffering through it" for our children. Also, I'm hungry for some cake and ice cream. Actually none of that is what I was going for but you know, I get distracted. I am really thinking about toys. No, not those kinds of toys. It is so much fun to sift through rattles and loveys while preparing a baby registry, or explore all the new gadgets while saying wistfully, "They didn't have shit like this when I was a kid". Except you say
"stuff" because, you know, your kid is with you. I am also irrationally excited when I see the retro toy section at Target. (Remember: kid in adult body.) I recently bought a wooden pull along snoopy for myse - I mean my two year old. I remember pulling my own tug a long snoopy around at his age, until our cannibalistic Lhasa Apso chewed it up.

Yep, you can find a lot of great toys out there, but I am here to warn you about the toys that seem great but actually are not. Now you can't trust yelp or any other hokey product review site for this information, because the people posting on those sites are either A), An undercover sales rep getting paid to pose as a satisfied customer (Like, I would totes give it six stars, but it only goes up to five!), or B), an actual parent who has children that LOVE the toy. What the B group doesn't tell you is how they, the parents, actually feel about the toy. I mean what kind of grinch insults classic children's toys? *Meekly raises hand in air. Hey, listen it's our money so we deserve to have an opinion about the toys we have been conned into buying outside of the opinion of little Johnny who thinks it's so much fun. A lot of these toys are classic and actually do seem great. Until you are cutting play dough out of your carpet. Which brings me to item number one:

Play Dough Remember the rubbery smell of play dough? Remember the feel of it in your hands as you rolled snakes and cut shapes? Remember the salty taste when you thought it was a good idea to eat some? No, only me? Okay, then. Play Dough is so great, it allows for creativity and the building of fine motor skills. You can make it yourself using a pound of organic peanut butter. It is in every preschool classroom. Do you know what else is in every preschool classroom? Cheap carpeting. Let's face it, no matter how many times you tell your kids to keep the play dough on the art table on the tile floor, pieces of play dough will inevitably make it into every crevice of your house. A piece will wind up on the carpet where someone will step on it with shoes on, because why not wear shoes in the house? At this point the play dough will be ground into your carpet to be removed only with scissors. Also, the "non-toxic" dye in the play dough will leave a nice stain on your carpet. If you want an excuse to buy a new throw rug, play dough is for you! Before you think I really am Scrooge, I will tell you that my kids have an entire bin of play dough and play dough sets, which they play with in the kitchen under supervision. All is well until I spend the next month sweeping up dried play dough crumbs. Oh, don't get me started on the dried play dough crumbs....

Bath Crayons I naively put this item on my son's first Christmas list. Drawing in the tub? What could be better to enhance the creativity of my future Picasso? Why not kill two birds with one stone and get clean and dirty at the same time? Besides, the crayons wash right off the walls of the bathtub just like they are designed to do, right? *Cue evil laughter of bath crayon manufacturers everywhere. If you feel so inspired after completing the task of yelling at your kid to get in the tub, scrubbing your kid, and yelling at your kid to get out of the tub that you find subsequent fulfillment in forcefully scrubbing your tub, then bath crayons are for you. My son was so creative that he not only wrote on the bathtub, but also the adjacent wall tiles and grout. No big deal, because it washes off, right? I may as well have given him a can of Benjamin Moore. The kids' bathroom looked like a greyhound bus station until a friend told me to try a combination of toothpaste and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Those things really are magic! Now the grout is only tinted slightly blue...

Bath Squirt Toys They are so cheap and cute until they start spitting tiny flecks of black mold into your nice soapy bubble bath. Mold bath, anyone? All you have to do is throw them out and replace them. Just do it on the sly because whatever fifty cent squirting duck that winds up in the garbage will suddenly be your child's very favorite bath toy, and oh, mom, can't you just clean it?

Toys That Include Microphones Giving a child a microphone is like giving the energizer bunny caffeine. They really don't need anything to amplify their natural noise level. This also applies to toys that sing, beep, or make otherwise obnoxiously loud noises. These toys will instantly be the ones your child gravitates toward. Especially when you are on the phone or trying to "rest your eyes", or fighting a migraine.

Building Sets That Brag the Inclusion of an Obscene amount of Pieces We have all seen those boxes: Includes 1,000 Pieces! The more pieces the smaller, by the way. If you A ), love to crawl around on the floor picking minuscule pieces of plastic out of your carpet for an hour each day, B), have no nerves in your feet, or C), get perverse pleasure out of building miniature Ikea furniture only with less explicit directions, then these play sets are for you! If you are thinking of buying one of these sets when it's on sale, factor in the inevitable ER bill when your toddler shoves a plastic screw up his nose. Also, good luck when your child screams, "Where is that little black triangle piece?"

Toy Food I know, what could be wrong with plastic food? Isn't it great for pretend play? Yes, yes it is. The reason young kids love pretend play is that the lines between fantasy and reality are still blurred. You child will lick and bite the plastic slice of pizza before forcefully offering it to you. Of course this will occur after he has resurrected the cat hair covered toy from underneath the couch.

Toys That Need A Team of Mechanics To Assemble These toys are usually great once they are put together. Just make sure you have your team assembled and no fewer than seven screw drivers handy. You'll need tools, too! These types of toys are especially useful on Christmas morning when everyone is overstimulated and wants the kitchen set up NOW!

Dolls That Pee and Poop Okay, I don't have girls so I can't speak to this one from experience, but just why? A real baby that pees and poops wasn't exciting enough? Besides, dolls are creepy. Think Chucky sans potty training. No thanks.

What are some toys that your kids love and you love to hate? You can tell us.

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