A lesson in fun: A few weeks ago, I bought Bub this really cool-looking rolly, shaky, colorful, chewy, textury toy. I mean, I couldn’t wait to get this thing opened and out on the playroom floor. So we bust it out, he looks it over, holds it for a minute, gives it a limp shake, then grabs a nearby DVD case, shoves it in his mouth. What can I say? The kid’s a film nut. And a toy shunner.
Wikipedia defines a toy simply as “any object that can be used for play.” (Yeah, I looked it up.) I’ve completely bought into that, without buying anything, because the world truly is Bub’s toybox. And that has made me one busy little elf in the ol’ toy shop.
Manufacturing toys at home isn’t nearly as arduous as it might sound. Most of them, in fact, come pre-assembled, primed and ready for oral insertion and gratuitous gumming. Some need to be slightly modified to adhere to the Cheap-o’s Home Toy Guidelines, as follows:
1. Bigger is better. You don’t want anything that could even be construed as a choking hazard, like the battery door on a remote control, so always pre-screen and go big. It also makes for good comedy: watching Bub try to shove a three-foot cardboard poster protector in his mouth is always a good time. He just looks so determined.
2. Bring the noise. Bub’s new current favorite song goes something like ‘I don’t want to work, I just want to bang on this crushed 2-liter bottle Daddy gave me all day.’ Foil balloons are fun, tissue paper—anything that can be forced into song is always a bonus.
3. Sharp is bad. Obviously, you wouldn’t give your child a ball-point pen to play with, but sometimes the sharp is more subtle. The plastic beverage lid—big, noisy, delightful—was promptly retired when overuse left it with a small crack. Lesson learned, plenty of other toys in the chest.
His taste in toys has changed over the months, evolved as he has become more refined, more discerning. He’s gone from munching on used burp rags, camera straps and instruction manuals to mini-Frisbees, webcams and a Neti Pot. Other favorites include magazines, bags of M&Ms, coasters and Tupperware.
He still enjoys the occasional “real toy.” He still gets a charge of his infamous Keys to the Palace, and the music-makers are hot right now. But as his curiosity grows exponentially, he’s challenging the entire concept of toys and has forced me to think outside the proverbial toybox.