As Christmas approaches, it is with no small amount of dread that I await presents for the children. Despite the many, many times that we’ve told well-meaning gift-givers otherwise, we inevitably receive numerous toys that are a) electronic, b) loud, c) have no redemptive value and more often than not d) all of the above. I still don’t understand why people buy these things. First of all, the packaging requires a small saw to extricate the item. The kids go gaga over them for about, oh, 5 minutes and then once they’ve figured out that pushing a button does the exact same thing every single time, the toy is relegated to the bottom of the bin, but not before Eric and I are tearing our hair out in sheer annoyance at listening to a plastic flower shriek, “I love you!” for the 500th time.
Even toy manufacturers have fallen prey to this notion that more bells and whistles is better. Remember the classic “See n’ Say” of your youth? You used to point the arrow to the cow, pull a string, and the machine would say “The cow says ‘moooooo.'” The toy now has 2 flip pages with all sorts of sounds, a “quiz” mode that is too difficult for the intended age group, and a lever that is too hard for little ones to pull. Same thing goes for the classic corn popper toy–now with lights, music and number counting. (Though can be purchased in its old incarnation, unlike the See n’ Say.)
I’d much prefer toys that encourage some degree of creativity and free play, since those are the ones that seem to have the most lasting value and are well tolerated by parents. Truth be told, the favorite “toys” at our house are the cardboard boxes, couch cushions, and blankets which can be manipulated into forts, space shuttles, cars, houses and so much more, and also anything that involves dress-up. I’ve had many house calls by the “doctor,” repair jobs by the “worker,” and trips to space with “Neil Armstrong” than I can count. Puzzles. Puzzles are also a hit.
Anyway. As an act of guerrilla parenting this holiday season, I encourage you to cut out the warning labels below and take them with you on your next visit to the toy store. Slap them onto anything that pertains, which is probably most everything there, and think about the the real caution labels that should be put on today’s playthings. (Taken from Make Digital Magazine, full link pic below large ones)