I’m back! Apologies for the small hiatus, things happen and life decides that blogging must wait! Keep reading, I’ll keep posting. There is no shortage of baby issues that need to bust out of my brain and onto the page.
My kid is almost 7 months and he’s getting bored. The stations are no longer holding his attention for more than a few minutes and that means he drives me crazy all day with high-pitched requests for entertainment. His toys are getting repetitive and that means that he needs some new ones. So my wife and I begin doing research. What toys are best and what toys will actually aid his development, rather than just send his little neurons into ADHD dysfunction with flashing lights and singing chipmunks that make me wanna crash through our third-story window and directly into my gruesome-but-quiet-grave. While looking, I realized two things: First of all, my kid doesn’t care what the toy is or who made it. He doesn’t care that it’s made in china or Taiwan. He doesn’t care that its recycled plastic. He doesn’t even care that it looks cheap. He cares about the craziest things. He just wants it to be colorful and interesting to look at through the eyes of a human that has never seen about 90% of….things. He wants it to not taste terrible and he wants it to not scare the living daylights out of it. As long as a toy meets this criteria, he is all about it. Secondly, he doesn’t actually care that we as adults label it a “toy”. Not even a little. He will pass up a fantastic little singing/light-up bongo toy and crawl across 20 feet of living-room no-man’s-land to wrap his little mitts around a hair tie my wife dropped earlier in the day. He routinely flips over his very expensive FAO Schwartz bear to play with the tag coming off its butt. We as grown-ups tend to think that like 12-year-olds, babies want actual toys when really, they just want something that looks like it might fit their mouth nicely.
So the research…I’m in the wrong business. The baby-toy racket is a gangster-speakeasy of price-gouging and extortion. The cost of some of these toys is ridiculous to the point of laughter and I aint payin’ no Mattel gangsters $20 bucks for a plastic giraffe the likes of which I could get for 10 cents at the dollar store.
So…we started talking and realized that many of the toys we were seeing were fancy versions of stuff we could get anywhere…so we did:
A set of tubes with connecting elbows and t-junctions. List price: $20.00 Guess what this is. Exactly, its plumbing PVC, colored with kid-safe dyes, thrown in a box, given a silly name and marked up like a million percent. A quick trip to the local hardware store and I got basically the same toy, except more durable and less fragile.
Papiology Tubos Playset
This ingenious design was invented by the Romans during early human history in the form of aqueducts. It consists of plumbing-grade PVC piping and matching fittings. While it is unfortunately a monochrome white, the durability and adaptability of the playset more than makes up for its lack of color. This toy is water-resistant, built to withstand industrial construction, and decades of use. Feel free to take this toy into the bathtub for extra fun! As a bonus, this toy will grow with your baby! Buy longer pieces and more fittings and as he gets older he can build everything from a complete home septic system to blanket forts! This amazing toy can be yours for the low price of about $4.00 at any local Menards.
“Sassy” Textured Ball Set
These are exactly what they look like. They’re balls. They also have little knobs on them. That’s it. That’s all they are. They “develop hand-eye coordination” (like everything else in his life right now). These fancy bolas can be in the hands and mouth of your infant for the low list price of….$14.00. Go back and re-read that. $14.00. For colored balls. 14…No.
These magical, furry spheres of delight are actually just tennis balls. Different colored tennis balls. They were on clearance at the store for like $3.00 for a pack of four. They do exactly the same thing as the “Sassy” balls…they roll. He chews on them and guess what? These ALSO improve his hand-eye coordination! As a bonus, the mesh bag they came in can also be used, since babies enjoy packaging more than what comes in it.
Peter Rabbit Teether-Toy
Insert whatever toy you want here. The stupid giraffe that is all over every baby store on the planet, teething rings, stuffed teether plush dolls and animals that serve only to alleviate my kid’s incessant need to gum everything in his path. List Price $15.25 Now, while $15 is still a crazy high-price to pay, I’ll give this one the benefit of the doubt, since it uses fabric and stuffing, and dyes, and….no…nevermind. Its cheap and it’s not worth $15 freaking dollars.
The Papi-Chewmaster 2000
This lovable little yellow alien is actually a dog toy. You heard me right. It’s a dog toy. It’s not used, so calm down. Its made of all the same materials as the stupid rabbit above, but its built to survive a dogs jaws and because its made for predatory animals, its got that tough-factor you just cant get from an androgynous giraffe. Its colorful and it squeaks when my kid chews on it. He loves it. I can easily see this bad boy becoming a favorite sleep-companion and as a bonus, when I meet my boy’s first girlfriend, I can tell her he played with dog-toys as a baby. It was also on clearance: $3.00
These are just a few of the wonders I have bestowed upon my son. He doesn’t care that they aren’t actual toys. He’s in heaven with his new playthings and treats each new one like I’m handing him the Asgardian Mjolnir. In about 2 months, when he’s outgrown these, I’ll go out and spend another hefty $20 dollars to fill his toy box with a whole new set of Papiology-specials. He’ll love them and I’ll be a hero. Booyah.