It Doesn’t Have To Cost You An Arm And A Leg!

I took my 5month old daughter to Toys-R-Us today to spend the $50 our neighbor gave her as a “welcome to the world” gift. Of course at 5 months old she isn’t very opinionated so the onus was on me to pick something out that I thought she would enjoy.

Now a word of advice to the new daddies out there: don’t take your child shopping when it’s 3 minutes before to feeding time. She was starting to give me the why the hell did you take me here when you should be at home warming up my bottle look. Actually it’s more of a dance but I digress! I’m feeling the pressure building as I saunter up and down the aisles scanning the shelves for something appropriate for the best little 5month old girl in the world. So many toys, so little time.

A good parent doesn’t just choose any toy off the shelf. A good parent must go through a barrage of stages before he gets to the pick of the litter. Stage 1: Will I have to put this together? If so will I be able to? There are so many toys out there that require a degree in engineering in order to build the darn things. I’m a pretty smart guy… smart enough to stay away from those kind of toys. So we move on to, Stage 2: Would I find this fun if I were 5 months old? I really do like to step into the shoes of other people even if they are a size minus 8. I don’t care how old you are now everyone can remember a toy they favored as a child. Mine was, of course, my Etch A Sketch. But as I rummage through the ample variety of toys in the store I’m thinking that I wouldn’t play with this or I might play with that, all the while keeping in mind I have to think like a 5month old girl. Stage 3: Is my child going to learn something as a result of playing with this toy? Like most parents I wanna give my child the best head start I can so that means interacting with her as much as possible by reading her stories, playing with her toys while she does and not using the TV as an instant babysitter. There are just so many distractions for kids these days. I’d like to try to fill her head with some intelligence before she’s shut off to the outside world with her nose glued to her Sony PSP. Step 4: Just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s the best. This is a key point here. I purchased the $60 toy with the long runners, rolling balls and happy-fun-time themed music coming from a big plastic bear who has a smile on his face like some kid who just crapped his pants after holding it in for a week.

I get my daughter’s new toy home, feed her, then start the daunting task of putting together her new expensive toy. For what I paid it should have come fully assembled! I won’t go into all the mind numbing details of how I put it together wrong four times before choosing to read the instructions but I will say that I did put it together eventually. So I’m looking at the freshly assembled toy then at my daughter (she’s sitting on the floor in front between me and the toy). I roll a ball down the track and the bear spits out some happy tune. I think to myself, whatever this thing does I think it just did it. I’m wondering what life skills she’ll develop from watching a tiny ball roll down a track over and over and over. It held her attention for about a minute and then her eye was caught buy her .99 cent bag of blocks. She reached for them. Right about then the buyer’s remorse set in.

I learned a valuable lesson today. I won’t ever again think that just cause it costs a lot doesn’t mean they’re gonna be into it. That’ll only apply when she reaches her teens!