Home » Parenting » Toys Reflect Our Story

Toys Reflect Our Story

Toys. What are toys really? An extension of our imagination? A catalyst for escape to a playful world where boundaries do not exist? The embodiment of child like wonder? I suspect they represent many of these ideas and more. But as a parent with young kids, toys can be a bridge from one generation to the next. Such is my experience lately when going to Toy Stores with my children.

My kids love to be wheeled around the store in a shopping cart. Not that they couldn’t walk or run around themselves but I guess it adds to the adventure. As captains of the fun boat, the kids enthusiastically order to “stop!” upon discovering a new item of interest. The toy undergoes a battery of tests and within an instant is rejected “Put it back!” or approved by palpable squeals of approval “I want this! I NEED THIS! Can we buy it?”. Being the trusted adviser, I too take a closer inspection ( i.e the price tag), while scouring through my mental archives ( “Don’t we have 12 of these already?”), or defer to the tried but true fall back (“Let’s ask your Mom.”).

rock'em sock'em robotsYet more often than not, what appeals most to parents (especially Fathers) about toy stores is the opportunity to introduce toys that filled us with joy during our own childhood. It’s not sheer luck for Dads that we end up exploring Star Wars toys, action figures, board games and retro toys ( i.e. Rock’em Sock’em Robots). Seeing the eyes of my children light up makes each trip worthwhile. Admittedly, there can be disappointments as well, specifically when your child does not respond approvingly to your personal favorites (DNA test anyone?).

Seeing the kids bounce around from riding vehicle to riding vehicle always puts a on smile on my face. “Let’s go in the jeep!” “No, the race car!” “I’m in a police car, cool!!” Children could spend the entire afternoon there. My little adventurers need to be convincingly persuaded to leave requiring my best parenting mojo. On a side note, I recommend visiting a toy store near lunch time. It makes the whole food bribe that much more effective.

As kids grow their interests change including their choices of toys which becomes painstakingly clear to parents. Witness the bittersweet look in parents’ eyes as their little ones migrate from baby toys to the toddler section, a seemingly inconsequential milestone that cuts deeply as parents face the new reality.

In a way, toy stores are like living breathing time machines in which each of us passes through at various points in our lives. Some day, if they choose to start a family, your children will also take a ride through time. But for this Dad living in the here and now, it’s “Go down that aisle Daddy!”

What do toy stores mean to you and your children? How have they made an impact in your life?

  • MSH

    I’m the biggest kid of all!!  Took my kids to the toy store this week to treat MYSELF the latest bat mobile!!  We had a great time zipping up and down the aisles.  Fortunately super heroes will always be classic forever

    • cutemonster

      And toy makers will always give customers an assortment of colors.  For example, need a red Batman, no problem?  How about a yellow Batmobile. Yep, got you covered.  🙂

  • Melissa Wardy

    I love toys and playing with my children, but the sexualized toys for girls (and boys) and the gender segregation found in most “big box” toy stores really frustrates me.
    My family usually shops online for very specific toys (mom and calf beluga whales) or at learning stores.
    My kids (6 and 4yo) have just started playing with my husband’s Star Wars toys from his childhood, and he is delighter. They are currently living in the Bat Cave with the Angry Birds.

    • cutemonster

      In my experience, the gender segregation you mentioned does not present a problem unless I make a point of mentioning it to my children.  We generally wheel through each section without any preconceptions.   Learning stores are a fun choice as well.  Surprisingly gift shops at Museums, Zoos, and Aquariums offer plenty of variety that can exceed choices found at big box retailers.    

  • Pingback: Why Do We Write? It’s All About the Story | DadScribe()

  • Pingback: Best Dad Blog Posts of 2012()

  • Right now toys stores are a lesson in losing the gender stereotypes war. I tried to stop it, but I can’t fight the rest of the world. My 2yo girl wants princess and my 5yo boy wants LEGOs… At least he still says he likes the color pink.

    • cutemonster

      Hi Oren. It’s true it’s an uphill battle. But once the toys are home, I’m sure you’ll find your 2 year old might want to pick up the legos and the boy might even help his kid sister play with the doll house. The gender specific toys are a marketing tool. Doesn’t mean we have to abide by it.