Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Who's Buying Now? Welcome to Consumer Parenting, Daddy!

My husband was always the one complaining about "stuff" -- toys I got even for free were too much, and every time a package came even from Nova Naturals or A Toy Garden, I was contributing to an evil culture of consumerism. I agree that we don't "need" a lot of what we have, but I also feel pretty okay about most of it. And I was pretty sure that, although I thought my son would enjoy the opportunity to play with trains at home, we didn't need set with a name brand or a hefty price tag. So together we went to IKEA to get a simple, nondescript (and inexpensive) train set.

But the next weekend, I went away on my first-ever (and the world's shortest) overnight away from my boys. And what did they do? Go to Kinderhaus Toys and spend an hour at the Thomas table. All week, my son kept asking to back to the toy store near Whole Foods where he went with Daddy. Maybe it had even been my suggestion once upon a time, but now I long for the days when he was blissfully ignorant of such a fantasy land.

Oh, and did I mention they came home with a train set? And that my husband is beaming proud of it, as though he just peed his own name -- and our son's name -- in the snow.

Sure, the set is nice, and the kid is spending a lot more time with the trains now (though we're still fighting the TV battle that is of my own making). But I really didn't think we were going to buy that packaged stuff.

And I cannot believe that my husband agreed to buy the Musical Caboose, which they got the following weekend at the grand reopening of Doodlehopper, another toy store, while I was at a time management (!) workshop. The activity itself was okay -- I might have even recommended it so that he get the (chemical-free) drycleaning nearby and so that he could pick up a gift for a friend's child (he forgot).

But it's what they brought home that has me shaking my head. LJ has always turned his nose and musical toys unless the person holding the toy is the one who makes the sound, and I agree. But now we have our little boy "singing" along to a toy he loves to put up to his ear. He pushes the button over and over. At least there are no annoying kid voices or words. But still, the Waldorf school teacher is coming over next week for a home visit! And I'm pretty sure she's not hoping to see character-driven or noisy toys. Hide, everybody!

LJ wonders about the price tag for the Waldorf school, but it's always seemed like he easily fell in line with a lot of the school's practices and beliefs. I used to think that if I were working and LJ was a stay-at-home dad, we'd have a very sparse home with only sticks and twigs and a few balls for toys. Now I'm not so sure!

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