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Parenting : Plastic Fantastic

Before giving birth to max, I hated colourful plastic toys. I thought they were cheap and nasty looking, and had planned to have as few as possible in our house.

Pre baby, we had a beige & white colour scheme going throughout the living room, and I simply couldn’t imagine adding rainbow plastic cars & playmats to that. Everything had its place, glass apothecary jars full of shells, bits of delicate coral and linen fabrics. It would have been a crimeto fill the house with loads of multicoloured crap. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t intend for my child to be toyless. Far from it. I wanted him to have everything, except for plastic stuff.

Luckily for me in my pregnant haze, there were lots of lovely looking toys out there on the market that were more friendly to the eye.  Delicate wooden cars in pale blue and natural woods, and expensive French branded playmats in red and blue, made from beautiful soft velour. I bought them all eagerly. Only problem was, once I actually had the baby, I discovered pretty quickly that the vast majority of the time, babies hate pretty looking toys. Really, the moto to go with when selecting a toy for a child is – the uglier, the better.

Max’s uncle likes bringing Max a new toy every time he visits, which is very kind. One time he visited, he came with a small troll looking soft toy, with fluro red scruffy hair and a weird scary face. I have no doubt it was bought at BP or alike on the way here. I eyed the new toy cooly, planning to put it at the back of a cupboard as soon as Uncle Rory left. But what happened to the toy you ask? Well of course, Max loved the hideous thing. And still many months later, crawls around the house with it, like a dog, in his mouth, shaking it violently.

Over time, as mothers tend to do, I changed my tune, and more and more large bright colourful toys appeared. So much so, that when my mum asked yesterday what Max might like for Christmas I had to admit, “well our house pretty much looks like a ‘toys r us’ shop now, so maybe something practical, like a  backpack for daycare or a sand pit for outside. Ahh, how things change.

Max and his buddies also seem to be very taken with homemade toys. A Mount Franklin bottle with some beads in it, taped tight with sticky tape. An empty formula can that acts as a drum, and last night I even shoved some bits of dry pasta into a large M&M’s tub. It’s a hit.

The other toy related phenomenon I have noticed is that more is not always better. As well as ugly toys, babies seems to flock to anything that’s not a toy – and is either breakable, poisonous or just plain dangerous.

A friend with a baby of similar age to Max came to play a few weeks ago, and was in awe of our toy shop like livingroom “ Wow, she said, Ella would love having all these toys!  I need to go shopping and buy her more things to play with. ” I looked across to Max, who was as usual, not playing on his rainbow playmat. Nor with one of his gazillion toys. He was rather attempting to climb into the fireplace, for the 10th time that day, take all the sticks out of the wood basket, and eat them.

xx Amanda