SMOTHERING: BEST TOY EVER

Published October 21, 2018

It takes one crack, just one swift movement in the tectonic plates of the toy chest, and within moments the waves of toys come flooding through carrying with them everything that lay within their path, wiping away hours of labour, and leaving behind debris, drama and a distraught mother’s shattered dreams of a spotless, visible floorboard.

One day you don’t have enough toys and the next day they’re scattered everywhere. It is this infestation that becomes the biggest giveaway that you have a toddler patrolling the hallways in his Little Tikes car. That and tiny handprints from last night’s dinner imprinted on the suede chesterfield sofa in all their glory, despite all that stain guard. Doesn’t take one to be Sherlock.

Parenting, in a nutshell, is repeatedly performing the same tasks and reiterating the same instructions till your children turn 15, after which you can resort to more rhetorical questions such as “How many times have I told you not to leave your shoes in the corridor?” For the first five years, the repetitive tasks consist mainly of rejecting ideas of eating toxic paint with a firm no, restating instructions to simple tasks repeatedly and sorting the same toys into their baskets every few hours. The last one being equivalent to collecting water in a sieve. After all, what good is a storage box filled to the brim with toys if it can’t be flipped 180 degrees in search of that one triceratops that was never in the box in the first place? 

Toys are the source of some of the greatest stresses in parents’ lives

Earlier this summer, the iconic American toy store Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy and, while experts speculate multiple reasons for its closure — including their inability to pay off their massive debt, Amazon’s competitive prices and even Geoffrey the giraffe’s dull personality (ouch) — I’m placing my bet on the silent curse of distressed and helpless parents who have dragged their wailing toddler out of that store even after spending a tiny fortune on the ‘must-have’ toys, that will soon join the ranks of the other forgotten ‘must-have’ toys at the bottom of the storage baskets ready to be toppled over. The fastest case of buyer’s remorse. 

While buying a toy may look easy, it really isn’t — unless it is for someone else’s kid, because then it’s their problem. If the thought of purple kinetic sand in your beige woollen rug doesn’t scare you and you’ve mastered manoeuvring through ‘lego-mines’ with your fancy footwork, you can skip the next part. But for the rest of us ‘regular’ humans, it’s a strategic choice between sanity and mental decay at the hands of a loud, spinning Chinese toy with its seizure-inducing disco lights. And while I would like to thank the manufacturers for taking out the time and making the effort of mentioning age groups and warnings on the box, I humbly request them to also consider stating the following — just to give the simple folks a heads up and let them know what they’re signing up for: 

Parenting is repeatedly performing the same tasks and reiterating the same instructions till your children turn 15 after which you can resort to more rhetorical questions such as “How many times have I told you not to leave your shoes in the corridor?”

Does the toy require an adult to assemble and, more importantly, an adult with patience? Secondly, how much time does it require to clean up the said toy? Look deep within and ask yourself if you have it in you to sort them shapes/puzzles/rings colour, size and texture-wise every day for the next five years. 

Analyse the level of destruction it can cause if used as Bam Bam’s club. Does it have the potential to knock an eye out and/or can it be hurled at delicate objects and/or humans? 

I humbly request them to also consider stating the following — just to give the simple folks a heads up and let them know what they’re signing up for. 

Step on it to gauge the level of your French vocabulary. 

Press play. Is it loud? Or is it pleasant to the ears? Now play it on repeat 10 more times to see if it still sounds adorable. 

Does it suck batteries like Count Dracula does blood? (Because eventually they’ll be piling up on your grocery list.) 

Can the battery compartment be unscrewed with a bobby pin or would you need to declare an emergency to search for a screwdriver every time it dies on you.

And most important of all, does it come in a cheap cardboard box? Because at the end of the day, your child will play with the 60 dollar object inside for a maximum of 15 minutes — if you’re lucky. And keep himself entertained for hours with the cheap cardboard box it came in. Yep, wrapping paper and an empty box. Best. Toy. Ever.

Published in Dawn, EOS, October 21st, 2018

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