Thursday, May 6, 2010

Toys Toys Toys

Okay, I have two questions for the week: when did it get so HOT and when did my baby get so BIG? Look at this giant child!

I am seriously not prepared for either.

I hate summer. I mean, it's nice and all to be able to go outside every day with a minimum of stuff, but you can do that in spring and there's no sweating and discomfort. And now that I rarely leave the house without a baby tied to my belly, the sweating and discomfort factor just increased a thousand fold. Even in the house! I could be sitting at this very desk typing at this very computer with her in the mei tai and I'll feel a wet spot on my belly that truthfully could be pee, but is probably commingled mama and baby sweat.

And in this weather I have to worry about whether she is too warm or warm enough, and sunburn on top of it. I tend to think that people overdress their babies but I am obsessive about her sun hat. How can people take their babies out without a sun hat? And if there's going to be naked baby skin of any kind, be it the arm or leg variety, exposed to the sun, I make dutifully sure she is slathered in the strange-smelling California Baby SPF 798,564,095+ sunscreen.

Then we are all sticky and greasy on top of sweaty. I just hate summer.

Over the past few days I have also noticed significant changes in Thora. She smiles every time you look at her and you can't help but melt. Last week she laughed so hard and so loud that she nearly stopped the hearts of both mama and daddy. She touches and grabs and pulls hair or earrings. She talks a lot more. And now that she has a half dozen soothies in all colors and one attached to a little red dragon, she still (or once again) refuses to take a pacifier.

Thanks to very generous friends of ours who are probably happy to be rid of the stuff we are so grateful to take from them, we now have a little tiny potty for her. It's never too early for Elimination Communication, right? I am signed up for a workshop on the subject week after next. And thanks to the same friends, we also have a new seat that buckles into a dining room chair and functions as a high chair. She already fits into it.

So she can now sit at the table with us. So what if she doesn't eat yet? Minor detail. I can just stick a few toys on the tray. Because, yes, the toys have started. Oh, the toys.

In my last post I showed a picture of an Activity Ball we have named Abe. (Get it? Activity Ball? It seemed too silly to name him Ab, so he is Abe.) Thora loves Abe. How do I know this? When you pull on Abe's head to make him vibrate or tap his crotch to make him whistle or put her hand on the rattle or the crinkly bits, she smiles and smiles and she actually reaches for him. This was all I needed to love Abe myself. Sure, she's only three months old but she reacts. She loves Abe! She sat with her G-ma and played with Abe. So I love Abe! And this must mean she needs more toys!

Part of me haaaaates toys. I never had many toys and I see no reason for my child to either. She already has a ton of books and I am fine with that - it's different somehow. Johnny and I both agree that she should definitely have good quality toys. Haba toys. Melissa & Doug. You know, a few good quality toys to rotate. A few good quality toys for her to love for a long time. Less mess, less clutter.

Yeah, sure. Balance that with her suddenly being old enough that toys are meaningful to her (whereas last week or the week before I was carrying the Haba rattle ring and Sophie the giraffe in the diaper bag more for myself than for her, I have to admit) and now my mind argues with me. "But she needs one that lights up!" or "Look, that one is black and white and it matches the other thing we have that she likes." or "This one is a teether too!" And then all of a sudden, you have a house full of junk.

I am staunchly anti-clutter. I am. I swear! I remember an old boyfriend of mine used to needle me about my "floor collage." My excuse at the time was that my apartment was so small I had to pile stuff on the floor. I had stuff everywhere. But then I was introduced to FlyLady. I may not be FlyLady's target audience but I do love her all the same. She has taught me how to impose order on my apartment's chaos and to really let go of stuff I once felt like I needed to keep. So I dumped it all. I don't save anything now. Old love letters? Garbage. Books I won't reread? Sold on Amazon. Clothes I don't love? Goodwill. I am now the anti-hoarder. From time to time I wander around the apartment and examine tchotchkes, books, clothing, shoes. I pick something up. Do I still love it? No? In the garbage with it, or give it away. I do a monthly FlyLady 27-Fling-Boogie (see here if you want to know what that is, and trust me, you do) and I clear off my Hot Spots every night before bed as part of my Bedtime Routine. And my sink... always shining! One of the best things about this new apartment is that there is a Goodwill three blocks away. I drop stuff off at least once a week. So you see, I do not want to have unused pink plastic crap everywhere.

And yet, it is hard not to buy crap for this kid. After spending the weekend with friends whose baby girl has a little plastic ball shaped like a kitten that meows, vibrates, and giggles, this week when I was out running errands in the SoHo area I suddenly heard Toys R Us calling to me. It was uncanny. I could not get that ridiculous yet awesome little kitten out of my head. It made my friend's girl so happy and it made Thora smile, therefore we must have it. So I lugged Thora and two bags all the way to Times Square in 80+ degree weather. We were cranky and sweaty but there was nothing I could do to stop the magnetic force pulling me there, just like I couldn't fight that same magnetic force that pulled me, as an angsty teenager, to St. Mark's Place (back when it was still alternative). Anyway, when I got there I was truly horrified. Rows and rows of pink plastic crap, of tiny overpriced figures, of junk. A Ferris wheel! A giant moving T. Rex! Tourists snapping pictures! I hated it all. Still and all, I persevered. I found the infant toy section, located the Fisher Price toys... but no round plastic vibrating giggling kitten. I was actually disappointed. Of course I could not leave empty handed. I got a teether (because it's black and white and it's shaped like the bugs on her mobile and her wrist toy that she loves so much, of course, never mind that she is not teething) and another black and white spin toy that has a suction cup so I could stick it on the high chair tray. (She didn't have one like that yet with a suction cup!) I won't mention the plastic keychain teether that has three buttons that play music. She needs it.

No, I am not that much of a sucker. I know you can occupy a baby with a box of tissues or pots and pans or a pair of socks. She doesn't need a ton of junk. Instead of using coloring books, I used to scribble wildly all over a blank piece of paper and color in the bubbles in the scribbles. I was busy with that for hours. It never got old. I really do not want the house covered in black and white toys, or toys that light up or play music, or toys of any kind. But you know, it's not even the clutter or the money. She just doesn't need all that stuff. I know it, and she needs to know it too. It's not too early to start teaching her that, and I will, if for no other reason than to keep myself in check too.

An Icelandic friend of mine just had a baby. I went on Amazon to order her a few of the toys Thora loves most. This baby has to have a Jacques the Peacock, of course, and the black and white mobile Thora has over her changing table. (As much as I wanted to, Abe would be tough to ship overseas.) I really wish I could tell you that I didn't sneak a toy or two for Thora into the Amazon order, but I can't. She really needed the musical teether shaped like housekeys!


  1. great post! totally love this last photo :D.
    here is the link i promised you to the vegetarian food for thought podcast that reviews vegan-friendly children's books:

    just go to "raising vegan children - social situations"


    there's a list of vegan-friendly children's books and films here:

    love ya!


  2. I love our parallel motherhoods. When my in-laws showed up with the (used, yay!) giant plastic desk for Anna that's taking up half my living room, I couldn't say no. But I am always eyeballing the things that go into my 'outbox' in the garage - I make a Freecycle pile, a Craigslist pile and a day care donation pile. Having a kid makes the anti-hoarding exponentially more urgent and challenging. I'm off to FlyLady right this minute!

  3. I so empathize with you about the toys. You do become more, shall we say, circumspect as she gets older and the toys become more complicated and more expensive. But when my first born was the age that Thora is now, and on up to about 7 months, I would buy some thing almost every trip out of the house, if it made my babygirl laugh out loud. A squeaky/squawky orange soft plastic clothes pin with a dorky face on made her throw back her head and laugh so hard, we attracted a crowd in the store. A jingling jester doll with shiny bells (label said not for children under 3) delighted her/fascinated her with the sound, colors, and large bright eyes. Of course I bought it. By the time she WAS three, she would not even look at it. And neither of her siblings were ever interested in those things the way she was. But by the time they came along, I was a bit more selective and controlled about my shopping. Thanks for the FlyBy link...I think I need a refresher these days, only now it is dog toys!!


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