Do 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