War on Toys
My Fight for Childhood
Oh motherhood! How many of your problems can be solved by technology? We can warm your baby butt wipes in hopes that the change from body temperature urine to disposable cleaning won’t set off five-alarm shrieks at three am. We can attach pumps and hoses to you so that you become the most efficient milking machine in your mommy circle. We can vibrate, bounce, and play mechanical noise at your little one and replace the need for you all together.
Tomorrow’s Child Today!
We can entertain your offspring with an ever-growing output of educational plastic, screaming midi alphabets at your child, in three languages, until they are electronically tiger mothered, into early preschool acceptance.
Not today Leapfrog! Fuck you V-tech! Stay away from my girls.
I remember the first noisy toy that came into our house; it was a caterpillar with 26 legs that could count, recite the alphabet, and tell you the color of its leg. As if I weren’t in a fog of raising a tyrant already, now I needed to add a Clockwork Orange reprogramming to the mix.
Straight Office Spaced on its happy smiling caterpillar face, with its light up eyes. Letter legs pulled out with pliers. A primary color horror show that would have made Eli Roth proud. I will not be a hostage to this toy propaganda machine.
Back to basics was the most revolutionary stand I could take against the onslaught of new mom pressure.
I replaced that caterpillar with a wooden one from Haba, Cater, who still has a home with my now teen daughters.
Just like that, we became a Waldorf, Frobel, Montessori only home. Quite, peaceful, filled with fairy tea parties and felted landscapes. Frobel blocks whose weight and shape was intrinsically linked, giving children a sense of proportion that is missing in plastic counterpart. They were the blocks of young Frank Lloyd Wright. A menagerie of Ostheimer figures who found their homes in the jungles of our bookshelves and adventured to many parks with us. Brown Bear found a Red Fish near the wooden apple tree. Elizabeth with her button nose and yarn braids would hold court among the stuffed animals while we read E.Nesbit and Edward Lear.
From Fisher Price madness to pastoral wonderland.
Rules for Revolutionaries:
1) If it has batteries, it’s banned. Period!
2) Handcrafted toys cost more. This means it is impossible to end up with childhood ravages of trashed plastic.
3) Educational is something the kids discovered on their own and not told to them by a sound clip.
4) Music had to be created by instruments or talented purveyors.
5) Boredom is a great teacher.
6) We can make our toys and games.
7) It didn’t matter if a traditional toy came from grandparents, friends, etc. If it weren’t part of this paradigm, then we would donate it.
8) Materials mattered. Dolls were made of wool. Animal’s, trains, marble tracks, blocks, kitchens, were made of wood.
9) Pretend play came with the real world experience of cleaning up. Toy brooms and dustpans took care of real messes.
10) Books are the preferred method of gift exchange with friends.
Years passed, and we let in LEGOS, because LEGOS.
They still know how to play, draw wooden swords, and engage in whimsy. Imaginations activated by honing the craft of creativity through a childhood of play.
For me, I didn’t become the insane caretaker of inane consumerism navigating the shrapnel of polymers of planned obsolesce.
In short, I am victorious.