Sunday, March 16, 2008

Confessions of the Lame Uncle

Barely more than six months, and already I have made myself a liar. I have already broken the commitment I set forth in this previous post: I bought an electronic toy that says "I love you." Can I consider it a mitigating factor that I at least bought the abomination for someone else's child, not my own? Or is that worse? Please, put away the millstones; I'll try not to let it happen again. That's what I get for not playing with the toy enough in the store.

Here comes the "Lame Uncle" part: I buy educational toys as gifts. Worse, I have an established methodology for doing so. I go to the toy section and find the educational toys; the ones that teach the most stuff (no, I'm not kidding) get a 5 second auditon. If I can turn on the toy and listen to it for more than 5 seconds without experiencing feelings of emptiness and despair or a desire to flee or wash my hands repeatedly, the toy goes on the "Toys I Might Consider Buying for a Child of Someone I Like" list. That's usually a pretty short list; in case I ever end up with two items on that list, I'm sure eenie-meenie-minie-moe will suffice. (Thus my as yet not entirely proven Forest's First Law of Inanimate Objects: "No two electronic baby toys are not abominations.")

What helps out a lot however, is that apparently education is such a big thing now that nearly every toy attempts to market itself as educational and has a list on its package of things it can teach your child. Some of my favorite examples of toys that just plain try too hard to be educational (the names of the brands and toys have been indecipherably altered to protect innocent children from receiving these toys as gifts):
  • The Tadpole Laugh'n'Learn Electronic Telephone: it teaches your child letters, numbers and "Wacky Sounds". (Really, what child do you know of who needs to be taught to make or recognize wacky sounds?)

  • The Tiny Tots Farmer Brown Farm Set: it teaches your child "Imagination". (I actually have nothing against molded plastic livestock as long as Bessie isn't programmed to express undying affection for me, but a plain brown cardboard box rates higher in the "Teaches Imagination" category. Cue the "When I was young, all we had were rocks with the word 'cow' written on them in chalk..." speech.)

  • The B-Tech Abomination Puppy: this plush atrocity teaches your child "friendship by asking for hugs and expressing affection". And it says "I love you."
I think I now know what I'm getting my nephew this year: a rock, a piece of chalk, a cardboard box, a raspberry, and "I love you."

On a side note, here is proof, taken from a letter accompanying an application to be a Student Athletic Trainer, that two wrongs do make a right (almost):
"To be apart of the ______ High School Athletic Program is to be apart of something greater!"



Blogger Dan & Diedra said...

Great post, Jon! Well done. I'm still laughing!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 12:22:00 AM  
Blogger Dan & Diedra said...

For your information you must know something about choosing baby toys because she has been playing with it all day everyday since she got it. She works up a sweat pushing that thing around. It should say "teaches your child physical fitness". She LOVES it...and it (obviously) loves her.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 1:04:00 PM  

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