Two things happened recently that led me to the somewhat rash, economically sound solution: No more toys for Bub.
This is not guerrilla parenting, nor is it a social experiment or petty retribution or personal childhood issues being projected upon my son. This is a very scientific conclusion drawn on factual events. These are those events.
Event 1: Bub and I took a little manventure out to Target for a bit of one-stop shopping. I mean, where else can you buy racquetballs, all-natural baby wash, jalapeno mustard and thank-you cards? Anyway, we’re cruising the baby aisles, looking at all this bright, cheerful stuff and the Daddy guilt starts in.
When did I last buy Bub a toy? Am I depriving my child? This thing says Baby Einstein, I want that! Is my child going to be a mouthbreather because I didn’t buy him logic toys as an infant? So I buckled, of course, shelled out ten bucks for a set of five clear plastic balls, each with something inside it. To stimulate, to frustrate, to inspire curiosity and, ultimately, like so many toys before it, to be shoved senselessly into Bub’s merciless cakehole. They’re called “activity” balls, but I don’t think that was the activity the makers had in mind.
Event 2: Bub got a new stroller. Pretty, sweet, right? Wrong. We unpacked it, put it together on the floor. He could not even be bothered to feign interest. He had his shiny new plastic balls right in front of him, shunned them. Instead he grabbed the stroller instruction manual, which he quickly made a small meal of, while the Einstein balls turned translucent with envy.
So I’ve learned my lesson, realized my definition of a toy was perhaps too narrow. There are toys everywhere, prime for oral probing. Yesterday we went out for a burger, and by we, I mean I got a burger, he got a plastic to-go cup lid. I’m pretty certain he got the better end of the deal; gummed that thing all the way home.
A beverage coaster fallen to the floor? Excellent mouth fodder. Remote control = delicious. DVD boxes are particularly tasty this time of year, cameras are also in season. Story time has become much less about plot and characters, and much more about taste and texture. And while mango and sweet potatoes are delectable, the plastic bowl and bib make exquisite dessert selections. Chewing on a burp rag is like a kind of nouveau recycling program, and onesies aren’t just for spitting up on anymore.
They say you should wean your child from the fikey at around six months. What they don’t say is that the world just becomes one proverbial fikey that can’t get in his mouth fast enough. So my son prefers cardboard to activity balls, big deal. I like to think of that as an entrepreneurial creative spirit. It just sounds so much better than mouthbreather.