The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas return #1: the toy the kid can't touch

Evan received a Thomas Big Big Loader for Christmas this year from his cousins. He was delighted to see Thomas on the box when the paper came off and immediately demanded that it be opened up and put together. It took us a while to get around to honoring this request, but yesterday morning, I finally sat down to help him assemble it.

Dumbest. Toy. Ever.

It took me the better part of a half hour to assemble the tracks according to the cryptic directions, during which time both of my children lost interest in the process and moved on to greener pastures. Julia rejoined me for the applying of the decorative stickers, which we both agreed was the only enjoyable part of the assembly process. When everything was finally ready to go, we called Evan back over to watch the toy in action.

Watch was the operative word. I turned the toy on and we all sat silently and observed as the train moved around the tracks, picking up bits of coal and depositing them into compartments. When the loop was completed, the process began again. And again. And again. Julia shifted her weight from one leg to the other. Evan laid down on his belly to get a better vantage point. He tentatively reached out to touch the train and it promptly fell off the track.

"No, no, Evan," we cried. "Don't touch the toy or it won't work!"

The minute the words were out of my mouth, I started to laugh. What the hell is the point of a toy that a kid can't play with? But Evan dutifully listened. He sighed and took his hand away and I started up the train again. He reached out for it. It fell off the track and we had to re-start it again. One more loop around the track, two more failed attempts to actually play with the toy and Evan gave up. He went to his toy shelf, picked up a regular die cut Thomas train and headed off for a quiet corner where he could drive it around on the floor. A toy he could actually play with... what a novel concept.

UPDATE: Guess this thing's not going back to the store. My kids spent the majority of the morning sitting in silence and watching, transfixed, as Thomas circled the track delivering coal. I have no idea what the appeal of this toy is, and I suspect it's probably even worse than television for them, since TV might at least teach them something as they sit there watching it in silence. But when Thomas is running, no one in this house is fighting, yelling, back talking or causing any kind of trouble whatsoever. They're just sitting quietly. Weird. But very, very useful.


At 5:07 PM, Blogger Rosemary said...

I love that - "Don't touch the toy or it won't work!" I *think*, from watching boys (little and big) play, that this is all part of the process. First it works correctly and - boredom. THEN you take it apart, put it back together again and - nothing. And the process cycles at that point until finally the toy (train, car, whatever) chugs, coughs, croaks, stumbles -- but does it because HE made it do it. Now there is a boy's joy! :-)

At 4:05 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

Ooo - they sit and watch? Without fighting? Ooo! Where can I get me one? ;)


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