Saturday, December 11, 2010

Toy tirade


What has happened to toys in the past 20 years?
Call me a prude, call me a goodie-two-shoes, call me uptight, because I cannot stop my head from shaking, my eyes rolling back in my head, and my jaw dropping to the ground when I see some of the toys being marketed to children.
The first one that had me reeling was found at the checkout in Kmart, right on the bottom shelf, so easy for little ones to reach.
Plastic Christmas themed animals doing a poo which turns out to be brown jelly beans.
The Poo Poo Panda Candy Dispenser sat alongside the Oh Deer Sooper Dooper Reindeer Pooper, the Poo-Lar Bear Sub-Zero Pooper Hero and the Baa Humbug Grumpy Sheep Party Pooper.
Seriously, what do animals with diarrhea have to do with Christmas, and what kind of kid would find brown jelly beans appetising?
I’ve written in the past about how much I dislike Tattoo Barbie, and I find the Bratz dolls hideous, because they are sending the wrong messages to our daughters.
At almost five years of age, I do not want my daughter to think that she has to dress like a slut and wear make-up every day in order to feel “pretty”.

Then there’s the Barbie Poop ‘n’ Scoop where Barbie goes out walking wearing a mini skirt with her pooch Tanner on a leash.
She gives the dog a treat, then uh-oh, you press his little brown tail and he does a poo. But that’s not the best bit. After Barbie picks up the poo with her magnetic scooper, and puts it in her little rubbish bin, she then feeds Tanner the same little brown poo so he can do it all over again!
I would never in my wildest dreams imagine I would see a Barbie product with the word Poop in the title, and the title alone makes it sound as if it’s Barbie doing the pooping!
In the US, there is also a cat version where kids can clean up a kitty litter tray.
Are kids truly that fascinated with faeces?
Other toys on my name and shame list include Airbrush Tattoo Sets promoted for six-year-olds (what the?), the Dog in a Handbag (is Paris Hilton really a good role model?), My Cleaning Trolley with Vacuum Cleaner (let them be kids, not domestic help), the ATM promoted for three-year-olds (why?), perfume for little girls (unnecessary), bras for little girls (also unnecessary), and computers for toddlers (what’s wrong with books?).
There are, of course, many toys that are great for young children, and the Barbie I Can Be range is finally bringing the doll back to her origins.
I am also pleased to see some more innocent toys such as Strawberry Shortcake making a comeback.
My mother and I were recently talking about how much “stuff” we accumulate over the years, and how children are also accumulating mountains of their own “stuff”.
“It was all so much more simple when you were a child,” she said.
“There were not as many gadgets and kids were happy to make their own fun, without needing so much stuff.”
She is absolutely right. How can we teach our children the true meaning of Christmas, that is, the spirit of giving, alongside the story of Jesus, when we are bombarded with consumerism?
Next time you’re going through the junk mail looking for a bargain on an overpriced piece of plastic bling made in China for your child, try instead looking for more imaginative gifts.
One colleague of mine gave her children an endangered animal adoption from the World Wildlife Fund.
Her daughter adopted a whale, while her son adopted a tiger. 
The adoption kit for each animal includes a collectible display folder with photo and certificate, factsheet about the animal, and some animals come with a soft toy.
Children can adopt pandas, tigers, black rhinos, marine turtles, gorillas, polar bears and other species in need of support.
Gifts like this teach children that giving can be a rewarding experience.

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