Cheap, Plastic Toys Won't Be Under My Christmas Tree This Year (Or Any Other)

Mom Moment 40

kid and toysDo you ever look at the toys your kid's friends play with and wonder "what kind of parent lets her kid play with that cheap piece of useless plastic?" Welcome to the club! We are toy (and sometimes book) snob parents, and we meet at the twee little Waldorf-doll carrying shop on the corner.

As a card carrying member, I used to fear I was a party of one judgmental mom who was a little too caught up in keeping crappy toys out of my daughter's hands (I could admit I was a little overboard most of the time). That is until I read that there is a toy class divide going on in America.

Go ahead, scoff and roll your eyes. We are talking about TOYS here! Not ritzy private school vs. poor inner city public schools. Could it really be that bad?

And yet, when I read the toy class divide explanation in the New York Times' Motherlode this week, I could see what writer K.J. Dell'Antonia meant when she questioned whether "big-box stores and mass-market retailers" are "cut off from the toys most clearly designed to promote creativity and learning."

She's got a point. Been there, been frustrated by it all.

I live in a poor rural area where the only place many parents can 1. access and 2. afford to shop at is a much maligned big box store. The children's book section alone is a joke. It's populated almost entirely by paperback offshoots of children's TV shows that scream "I am just trying to market the heck out of this one character and to heck with actually doing anything good for kids."

Then there are the toy sections. I have shopped there, will shop there, because there are some really good items, such as the LEGOs that engage my daughter's love for building. But there's also a lot of crap in there, the stuff that I refuse to let my daughter anywhere near. And many of the good things that I buy for her aren't available there, or anywhere else in our rural area. It's all on the Internet, and I have to go out of my way to get it.

Finding "quality" toys and books for our kids isn't easy. It takes work. And sadly, it takes money. I have zero criticism for parents who simply can't afford to get their kids more expensive educational toys.

But I do judge the parents who can but who just don't care.

Some will call it my snobbery or maybe it's just choosiness, but it has to be acknowledged that toys are not created equal. I know some parents just throw whatever to their kids, but I can't do it. Just because it's made "for kids" doesn't mean a product is actually beneficial for children.

And if you think I'm the only toy snob out there, just wait. 'Tis the season when well-meaning aunties and child-free uncles purchase goodies that any sane parent fully intends to dump in the trash after the kiddies have been bundled off to bed. Because let's face it, some toys just plain suck ...

Do you feel like there is a toy divide?


Image by Jeanne Sager

books & media, toys


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nonmember avatar LAAD

Growing up, my parents only bought me and my siblings educational toys (GeoSafaris, the like) and while I really did enjoy them, and learned from them, I wish I had the experiences of playing with the cheap crap -- or even a Barbie. With my own children, I find I WANT to buy them the educational toys. My husband is in the camp of "just let the kids be kids for another year." We compromise, so there's always at least one REALLY GREAT educational toy, and in the years to come it will end up being the majority.

lulou lulou

Its like yogurt.  Many think its healthy but a lot of brands are pure junk food.  Read a good article on this year's hot toy lists, toy awards, marketing, that big box retailers put out versus independent groups.  However, I think there are some, such as Beyblades, that parents can help to encourage kids to get some additional benefits from/science project on physics.  But otherwise, espcecially for the under 6 set, just try to stay away from anything needing a battery.

Michele L James

Sorry, I really don't have much money for toy shopping. Most of ours come from Walmart or Kmart,if they're bought new at all. I usually stick to the really cheap section for stocking stuffers. Army men, marbles, slinkies, all of the little bags of cheap plastic animals. These are the things that get played with the most. Trust me, plenty of imagination in use with these toys. One year I had to put the garden in around my son and his cars and dinosaurs. I also have to add that come Christmas shopping season our local Walmart brings in a lot of toys that they don't always have stocked. Wooden blocks, painted and plain, half a dozen different science sets, musical instruments sized for kids, spinning tops, telescopes, and wooden doll houses with wooden furniture and no Disney or Barbie logos on it. Come to think of it, that house is the perfect size for the cheap plastic Family Dollar fairies my daughter loves...

jrl90 jrl90

Guess what? Educational things that engage your child aren't expensive toys. Let them use their imagination, kids don't need toys for that and it will save you lots. Oh yeah and there's this little place in my small town, which also happens to be a "poor, rural area", where kids can go and rent books for FREE, can you belive that? They call it a library.

nikki... nikkivolkov

Love the library!

Katy Khan

"Actually' , the best thing for a childs mind is to have very few or no toys at all. At least....that's what science says ;)  I go  that son has a basket ball, soccer ball, scooter, arts and crafts supplies and building blocks...DONE...and he is always busy doing something...he's 2 1/2

Mommy... MommyBoha

I think that will everything going on in the world today.. this is one of the most petty and useless things Ive read. Its a toy for crying out loud

nonmember avatar Michelle

Get over yourself, it's a freakin toy. You're really reaching sound like all the other insecure, overbearing & judgemental moms that are always looking for something to make themselves feel superior to other parents.

nonmember avatar Mrs.Clark

They're toys for crying out loud! Toys! They're fun! My son goes to school everyday. He studies hard and gets straight A's. Let him have the toys he wants. It doesn't all have to be educational! Guess what? Going out in nature is educational. Reading books together is educational, drawing is educational. Let the kids have a darn break once in a while.

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