So I'd been pretty confident about Christmas this year. I'd enlisted the help of my three-year old daughter on Black Friday so she -- the picky one -- could tell me if the presents I'd planned to buy were SO SO LAME, MOM or not. Carefully, I poured through the sites to find the best deals on the toys and ordered them. The packages began to arrive well before December 1.
But because I'm a scientist at heart, I had to do one thing, one TINY thing to see if my parents had been right.
My parents, who find anything other than teak and fine silver to be "garish," "tacky," and "Oh my GOD Becky, where did you FIND that monstrosity?" had always been of the mindset that toys made of wood were far superior than those made of plastic.
In some senses, they're probably right. Wooden toys do win the "I'm sturdier than YOU" contest and kids can gnaw on wood (usually) without getting splinters in their mouths. It wasn't a trend back when I was a wee lass, these wooden toys, so when I began to see them pop up in the stores, I rolled my eyes. The days when I'd wanted something flimsy and fashioned only of bright plastic weren't far enough in my rear-view mirror for me to want to get in on this trend.
Well, for all the eco-friendliness of toys made of thoughtlessly dismantled trees; for all the "imagination" the kids are supposed to feel the moment they lay their wee eyes on a pile of wood stuff, wooden toys are - and please don't lob them at me for saying this - boring.
I figured that this was a "me" thing, the same way I prefer everything I own to sparkle, even if it means bathing in glitter to make it happen. I wear my tacky with pride and therefore assumed that since I was both tacky and lack an imagination, the wooden toys were probably full of the awesome. I was probably missing some essential part of my brain that made wooden toys appear to be cooler than I saw them to be.
Which is why on Black Friday, amongst the pile of Batman-related Imaginext toys, I decided to perform my experiment. I also ordered a drastically marked down cash register for the kids, made entirely out of wood.
Perfect, I thought as I bought it at a ridiculously low price, this will prove that the whole "wooden toys are boring" thing was just me being spoiled. I'd probably been wrong all along, I thought as I carefully placed the order.
Christmas morning, Dave brought the kids over to my apartment for stockings and to open the presents my daughter had helped select. First to be opened happened to be the cash register.
I'm telling you, they couldn't have appeared more annoyed if they tried. You could practically hear their eyeballs *thwap* into the back of their head as they went onto the next present.
Hrms, I thought as I watched them tear into the rest of the Batman stuff. Maybe it was just the wrong presentation. Perhaps they'd come BACK to it with a renewed sense of interest and/or imagination.
"Hey guys," I said, patting the couch next to me. "Lookit this cash register!"
They each wandered over for a second, looked at the cash register then back at me, before walking away with a familiar expression on their face. It's the same one I had every time I opened another thing of wooden blocks: boredom.
The plastic toys, which, I won't lie, are well-made and well-designed toys, those are what the kids played with. For as long as we stayed at my apartment before continuing on to Christmas Part Number C, they played with those plastic toys. Batman did everything from fix the broken sink to get lobbed into my crotch by accident.
The cash register still remains untouched.
Maybe I can give it to my parents as a gift or something.
Do YOUR kids dig wooden toys?
Image via Kathy McGraw/Flickr