What to do When the Batteries Wear Out
Get Yer Mind Outta Da Gutter!
That being said what I’m talking about is children’s toys.
Let’s face it – most children’s toys these days need some type of battery. Either they come preinstalled by the manufacturer or you have to buy them and install them.
Our children, from infant to teen, all expect the bells and whistles to actually work! They expect the lights to light and the sounds to be realistic.
Whatever happened to imagination? Are we as parents so brainwashed by television and the internet with all its claims of fun and learning that we believe our children will grow up better, faster, or smarter because of this? Good Lord! I hope not! If we do then we are raising the laziest generation yet!
Batteries- Oh The Horror!
I can remember that my mother picked out games based on the number of pieces that could be lost, swallowed, stepped on or thrown and causing bodily harm. Today as I walk the toy aisles I am hard pressed to find something that does not use batteries. I count the number and size of batteries needed to operate the things. Dolls, Dollhouses, rocking horses, toy cars, and trains, even talking books; they all need batteries in some form. Most of the time we are lucky, it’s standard AA batteries, but try to replace one in a talking book? You spend more time looking for the right type of battery than the child does playing with it.
Cost is a big factor; most quality toys begin at about $20.00 and just go up from there. That’s a lot of money for something that the kids will most likely play with for a couple of weeks and then get bored with. Add in the cost of constantly replacing batteries and you can just about double the cost of the toy. That same toy will be sold at the yard sale next year for little to nothing. Talk about a waste of money!
When I Was a Kid….
Batteries were hardly ever needed. In fact, the only game I can remember getting that actually needed batteries was Operation. You didn't have much fun if you didn't have the buzz! Everything else either plugged in or imagination was required. From dolls to cars to board games you used imagination or simple muscle power to move the pieces.
Remember Battleship? Each player had a board and pieces and positioned their ships so the other had to guess where each ship by calling out simple coordinates to determine a hit or a miss. The ultimate groan of “You sank my battleship!” is something many of us remember. Today, you can’t find this version, except maybe in yard sales and flea markets. Today Battleship is played online or as a PC game. The reincarnated Battleship game is a sad reflection of what used to be.
How about Monopoly? Buying and selling and trying to get hotels. Everyone wanted to be the banker. Your deeds were color coded and you had to check them each time someone landed on your property. Counting the roll of dice you hoped to get to get that particular piece of property and hoping you did not land in jail. The game could last for days if necessary. My brother and I, stricken with chicken pox, played one game for 5 days straight and I still don’t remember who won! Today you can buy the latest version with an electronic banker where you use a swipe card similar to a credit/debit card. Do I really want to teach my children how to do this????
Catching Them Younger
We really are starting them young too. Infants have gadgets to listen to them, rock them, light up for them, wiggle and giggle for them. Whatever happened to parents actually providing the rocking, movements and sound effects? Are we lazy or just trying to give our child every advantage we can? It’s a tough call to make in this hectic world of computers, cell phones and working parents. Remember the mobile that hung over the baby’s crib? You wound it up and let it go. Then you went back and did it again as often as necessary. That’s not good enough for today’s baby; they have crib toys such as this Baby Einstein Lullaby Soother which comes complete with:
Incorporates real-life ocean imagery and Baby Einstein characters that swim along in this scrolling aquarium scene
Features a unique soothing mode that gradually softens the volume to put your baby to sleep; remote allows for activation or deactivation without disturbing your baby
Soft edge lighting allows you to check on your baby from a distance
Includes a button for baby activation; design allows for extended bedside use for older babies
Batteries Required (Sold Separately)
A remote??? A remote for a baby toy….my grandmother is turning over in her grave.
So what does a smart parent do?
First, never, ever, evereverevereverEVER! Take your child to the store to let them pick out a toy – it will cost you! They watch TV, they will spot the largest, latest and most expensive item there is and whine, cry, manipulate, pout and generally wear you down into submission until you buy it.
Second, start them young. Be the sound effects, be the motion machine, don’t cave into the articles and advertisements that promise easier and more educational . By using your imagination, you teach them to use theirs.
Next, think about the toys that hung around your house when you were a kid. I’m talking about the ones that actually stayed for more than a few weeks. Chances are they are still out there in one form or another. Some examples include:
Etch a Sketch – draw it – shake it and do it again! Or its newer version for younger kids The Doodle Pad.
Legos and their little siblings Duplos – build the kit and then create your own variations.
Dolls or Action Figures – they move, bend and twist. You dress em up and send them off to action. Imagination required.
Balls- baseball, basketball, football, even those pesky super bounce balls that can ricochet through a kitchen faster than you can duck. Hours of exercise for any kid and parent.
Bikes, scooters, skates, skateboards- Actually see scenery going by – not just simulated on a Wii.
Playdoh, Crayons, paper scissors – let your imagination run wild. Cheap and easy to replace, they can absorb any child’s attention on a rainy day. You can even make some of it yourself.
Last and most importantly, play with these things with them. You as a parent are their teachers. Teach them what you want them to learn not what commercials, guides and so –called experts tell you that you should.
I can guarantee you this - at some point in the future when their friend are whining and crying about being bored - yours won't be. They learned to use their imaginations.
For More on Being Battery Free....
- The Handmade Children
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