Finding birthday presents for children under six should not be difficult. Both of the children for whom I’m seeking gifts are blessedly unspoiled by electronic addictions or parents who think that their children need every new toy on the market. Still, even though a box of crayons would be appreciated, I was hoping to find something slightly more exciting.
I started my search with a modest budget in mind. After some internet browsing and physically visiting four stores, my list of requirements grew exponentially. I discovered that I had more prerequisites; in fact, I am a very fussy shopper.
I am open to crafts, books, games, puzzles and construction toys. I would be delighted with a gift that stretches the imagination, improves fine motor skills and that can hold a child’s interest beyond five minutes. If the toy is sturdy enough to withstand use, that would be a plus.
However, I found out that I am not keen on expanding the Disney franchise or requiring hours of TV watching so that the character on which the toy is based means something. I do not like toys that beep, hum, or burst into music. If my grandchild wants a cow to moo, he or she can say ‘moo’ himself or herself. If a budding sense of humor suggests that a cow says ‘neigh,’ I don’t want to preclude that possibility. I abhor toys whose main function is to teach gender neutrality. Who knew I was so demanding?
It turns out the good old-fashioned toys do not come with retro prices. A piece of junk with embedded electronics that would have wowed Albert Einstein costs less than a sturdy wooden building set. A pre-political-correctness children’s book commands a high price.
My carrots don’t have to be grown locally, my clothing don’t have to be 100% organic and my phone doesn’t need to be the latest model. Is it too much to ask for reasonably priced toys that expand skills and develop the imagination?