Sunday, June 17, 2007

Toys R Not Us

I remeber the first time I stepped foot into a Toys "R" Us store. It was not when I was a child but when I was pregnant with offspring No. 1. Once I had passed the point in the pregnancy where all I did for weeks was sleep and puke, it became obvious that the kid was definetly staying with us and that we had better do something like buy a crib and a few of the other things that a baby requires. (They do not need all the crap that the stores make you think that they do!) We took a trip to Toys "R" Us.

The store was filled with small children screaming because their mommy would not buy them the 10,000 piece Lego set, the kid negotiating for the remote control car for which he was $50.00 short (assuring dad that he would mow the lawn all summer long, "I promise"), and all the pregnant women who looked like they needed to make a quick dash to either the restroom or the hospital. As I stood staring at cribs, strollers, and high chairs, I remeber looking forward to the time when I would be able to shop for real toys.

I was surprised by how little time cildren actually spend playing with toys that come from the toy store. There was the Christmas that Brooke wanted a Tonka fire truck and a Lite Brite, the one where Erin wanted the Little Tykes kitchen, and the year they both wanted pogo sticks. Then there was the summer that Brooke was fascinated with toy horses. She had the stable and a pasture full of horses but no one to ride them. On a summer afternoon we headed to Toys "R" Us to look for an appropriate rider for the horses. We looked with the horse stuff - there were dolls that were too big and dolls that were too small. Unlike with Goldilocks, there was none that was "just right". With a frustrated five year old at my side, I suggested something that I never thought would come out of my mouth, "What about a Barbie? (This still makes me cringe.) At the top of her lungs Brooke screamed, "Barbie won't work; she won't spread her legs!" Shhh. Don't tell Ken. Oh wait, he was more interested in G.I. Joe. Anyway, let's just say that the horses in Brooke's pasture remained free of a rider. I'm not sure we went to this store more than once or twice after this - not because we were banned, but because the girls quickly outgrew these types of toys. They moved on to books, and books, and more books. They also liked (and still do) any type of puzzles, art supplies, and the dreaded video games. The point to all of this is that I have not been to Toys "R" Us in eight or ten years.

One of the props that I am still missing for the show is Cornish game hens. For some reason, Hobby Lobby does not have plastic ones in their section of fake food with which to decorate. Go figure. On the way home from church this morning, I had the bright idea to stop at the dreaded toy store. Surely with all of the play kitchens and dishes they must have a realistic looking plastic game hen. Imagine my surprise when I failed at this mission. I did, however, make some observations while shopping the fake food aisle.
  • Green plastic must be rare. In an entire row of plastic food, the only vegetable was an ear of corn.
  • Not only does that fast food industry control children's eating habits, it has also infiltrated their playing habits. You can now buy boxes of plastic food to make a Pizza Hut pizza, the complete McDonald's menu right down to the chocolate shake, and a Subway sandwich. (I stand corrected on the green plastic. The Subway box did contain a piece of iceberg lettuce. Whew! I am relieved.)
  • The shelves did not have many pots and pans, rolling pins, wooden spoons, cooking utensils, but they did have a toy microwave to reheat your leftover (Pizza Hut) pizza. I guess this is preparing those toddlers for college.
  • French fries come with everything.
  • Chickens are all legs. I thought for sure they would have a miniature plastic turkey that would read from the audience as a game hen. I guess Fisher Price does not want to traumatize our children by giving them headless birds to play with. It is much more comforting to give them only the ripped off limbs.

I hope that I do not have to venture into these parts again soon. Who really enjoys subjecting themselves to the craziness of Toys "R" us? My actions today were the result of a desperate woman!

Thank goodness for Internet shopping. Should I ever have the need to buy toys again, it will be for me. And just so you know, my Google search for "plastic game hens" resulted in "No matches found." I'm sure I would have better luck with Lego or Lincoln Logs.