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Not Fully Functioning
by Victoria Tkachuk
3/11/2011 / Parenting
To my daughter,
While I'm at work, I overhear a lot of conversations. Today's was about kids' toys.
"I bought him the [branded] truck and he only played with it once!"
"He has so many toys, I want to just donate them all to goodwill because he doesn't play with them."
"She'll just throw it in the corner after she opens the package and plays for one day."
It's important to ask this question: What kind of toys are they talking about? Even though they are different functioning toys - some action figures, cars, electronic games, dolls - they all fall into one category: branded toys. Meaning, toys that are associated with a movie, tv show or other type of media.
Well, baby, I will not be buying you toys like that. Plain Legos, generic dolls, pretend kitchen and plastic food, yes. Dora the Explorer activity backpack or Leap Pad electronic learning center? No. Bratz dolls? Definitely not!
It's not that we can't afford to buy you those branded toys. We don't get them for you because we know their value is only in the name and, outside of the prescribed story associated with them, it's likely you won't imagine other stories to put them in. It will limit your imagination, your creativity, your ability to think abstractly.
That probably sounds like a fancy way of justifying not spending money to you. But I really have thought about it. I've already spent a lot of money on you; when I think something is quality and you will enjoy it for a long time, I go ahead and buy it.
Branded toys are boring. You have to play with them a certain way otherwise, you're not playing "correctly" with them. Branded toys are dumbed-down. You already know their names and what they are "supposed" to wear, how they are supposed to act. It takes the thinking out of playing.
And, branded toys can be dangerous because of what they represent. See those Bratz dolls pictures above? That is not what real women look like, but you'd be alarmed at how many results you'll find on a google search for "Bratz make up tutorial." To be nice, you could say it makes girls look like clowns. But there are a lot of not-so-nice terms along those lines that people are likely to think if you walk into the grocery store in a Bratz-style get up. [Also, they're call BRATZ. As in, brats (misbehaved, rebellious girls). That's not a name I ever want applied to you, Sofia. And I'm certainly not going to encourage it.]
You'll have no shortage of things to play with. Pots and pans, water, the outside world (hopefully, someday, a garden), blocks and legos, dolls and dress-up clothes (I already have a trunk full waiting for you), me, daddy and your cousins! You'll have plenty to do and you'll never miss not knowing who Dora is.
If you reprint my article to a website, please e-mail me to let me know: velcrotkachuk@gmail. I'm trying to keep track for my portfolio. Thanks!
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