Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Toy Review #1

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Toy Review #1

On my desk sits a pair of Christmas gifts for Erik. Of course, they were purchased after carefully assessing their educational value and determining which halves of Erik's brain would be appropriately stimulated from playing with them.

These include a set of Melissa & Doug wooden lacing beads (Package reads: "Plus Two Laces!"), which I will open before Erik does and replace the strings with plastic tubing, which is easier for any 2-year-old, let alone one with motor skill difficulties, to manipulate through the beads. But wait! There's more. I also purchased a stacking shapes pegboard. I'm not going to even bother capitalizing that. It's from a seemingly reputable company called Learning Resources. What is a stacking shapes pegboard, you ask? Well, It's a board with holes in it very unenthusiastically impaled by pegs holding up "5 shapes in 5 colors!" I find it interesting companies make no effort whatsoever to give a painfully boring toy a name with just a little more...something. I'm no advertising executive, but these toys are in need of a serious makeover. The "laces!" in the one box only remind me of John Wayne Gacy's infamous rope trick, which is definitely not a very effective selling point for the 2-year-old set, and the pegs leave just about everything to be desired. They are the kind of toys a kid might open on Christmas morning and immediately start weeping, thinking Santa hates him. At least coal has the potential to keep a kid warm as he sobs himself to sleep. Even cuddly but seemingly uninspiring toys like Elmo gain the dubious honor of occasionally having methamphetamine packed in their furry, Muppet-y orifices and smuggled across the United States border. I guarantee that these particular toys will never make the news unless they pose some sort of choking hazard or mysteriously spontaneously combust and are recalled. Sadly, it would be difficult to even hurt yourself on them (I checked into that as well). What kind of fun is that?

Unfortunately, I feel it necessary to purchase these items as Erik develops upon the recommendation of his therapists. They do him a lot of good. However, it is going to be really hard for me to wrap them in festive paper, put them under the tree, and call them gifts. I even chose this particular pegboard because Erik will have a hard time rolling any of the pieces (he'll still try) on the hard floor and going into his happy-wheel-trance. I am requesting a wheel-less Christmas this year and a very silent night in terms of battery-operated items.

On the other hand, Erik and I have discovered the joy of Play-Doh. Actually, I have rediscovered how wonderful it is. It's nothing like the homemade dough with glistening squares of salt granules in it tinted a sickly pink by red grocery store food coloring. I hit the jackpot with the "Chomp 'N Chew" diner on eBay. It comes with a plastic diner featuring realistically uncomfortable booths and a miniature grill. There are molds to make all of your favorite classic diner foods, like spaghetti, corn, and fish (What the...?), and it comes with three tiny tubs of Play-Doh in three fabulously artificial, bright colors. The whole set seems kind of random if you don't have the whole town. You can decapitate each of the little figures and cram their craniums with clay so that when you return the heads to their torsos and push down on them, their hair grows. I'm not sure what kind of wacky diner this is, but apparently they serve gigantic doses of prenatal vitamins. I like chopping off a single strand of freakishly thick, dough hair and placing it atop the adjacent patron's plate of pancakes, whereupon the recipient picks up his plate and hurls it toward the kitchen and curses the chef. SPLAT! You can also pull their heads up slightly and cram the crudely molded food in their mouths. It's alarming but strangely adorable. Unfortunately, when they settle the check and get up to leave, all of the food they enjoyed rolls out their plastic bottoms, leaving colorful piles of dough where they once sat and instantly explaining why you never see the same busboy in Play-Doh Town.

Oh the fun that Erik and I have. At the end of our "therapy" session, there is quite a mess. It's funny -- I don't remember Play-Doh sticking underneath my fingernails and discoloring them for three days. It makes one wonder about what we are doing with our nuclear waste these days. It still smells delightful, though!

The heck with therapy today. I feel a gluttonous melee at the Chomp 'N Chew coming on.


Blogger Aspen said...

OMG, crack me up! I laugh because I know exactly what peg board toy you are referring to. Daven's OT tries to his interest in that silly peg board at every session. Of course he looks at her like she is crazy! You honestly think I am going to play with that LAME TOY! PSHA!

So funny. I LOVE Christmas and all the fun things that come with it. Shopping, new toys, and laughter. Thanks again for making me laugh. I needed it today!

1:30 PM  
Blogger Teresa & Shawn said...

I love Playdoh. One of the joys of having kids is rediscovering all that stuff.

You know what, Nancy? Buy a stupid, fun, ridiculous, totally non-educational present for Erik. Who knows? He may even love it and play with it. When Jamie turned one, we got him the Learning Sounds Toolbench for his birthday. Very, very cute and just the right size for a one-year old. They had a kitchen, too, and I told Shawn I wanted that for our first girl for her first birthday. Well, after Clare came, I thought there was no way she's ever going to be able to figure it out. But I had my heart set on it (silly, but true), so I got it anyway for her. And you know what? She LOVES it. Is fascinated by it. Can she put the rectangular milk and triangular cheese in the shape sorter fridge? No. Can she cook the egg in the pot? No. But she knows how to open and close the fridge and oven and make all the noises work. She just loves it. I am glad I took a chance and bought it, because you never know. And, if nothing else, at least it was fun buying it and wrapping it up!

4:44 PM  
Blogger Kim, Grandma to Ava,ws said...

Oh, Nancy, YOU are the kid my mother warned me about. I can empathize with you about the toys, though. I am still buying Ava toys that would be appropriate for a 2 month old baby. I bet OT will suggest boring stuff next year. I hope that Erik enjoys the SPIRIT of Christmas even more than the boring toys. Cause that's what it is all about! Ho! Ho! Ho! (And maybe Santa will bring some Play Doh just for you!!)


4:50 PM  
Blogger Lisa R said...

Tatum too has no interst in that peg board...she (OT lady) even tries it at the begining now...I thought is was because she was to young but I guess it is just not cool enough LOL...

Your the best!! Love you

4:53 PM  
Blogger PASLAY'S FROM IDAHO said...



5:26 PM  
Blogger Kerry said...

I LOVE Play Doh... Michael still pulls it out to play with. We have a three-drawer roll around in the front closet filled with Doh and tools. My favorite is the hair salon where the hair grows and you can cut it off. Brady was squeezing Stage 2 Peaches in his hand yesterday so maybe I have a future with Play Doh soon :)
Love -K

8:04 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Got here via This Eclectic Life, cheers for the laugh!! I haven't played with Playdoh in years, makes me want to go to the store & get some now!!

1:39 PM  

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