I’ve been shopping for, among other things, a toy for the charity Toys for Tots1. My company’s holiday party is tomorrow, and we’ve been encouraged to bring a toy for TfT, especially one suitable for children between 9 and 12 years of age, as that’s a group that they’re usually short for. And now I know why. I had no idea what to get. If I can see through the mists of time semi-accurately, I remember that, when I was that age, I wasn’t getting many toys. I got a lot of junior versions of adult things, like a pair of binoculars. Or I was getting books and albums. Or we got games, very useful as I have a sibling only slightly younger than I and therefore able to play games with me (when I wasn’t being the typical older brother to her).
When my nephew was that age, twenty years ago, I guess he got models. I kept trying to give him art supplies, but that didn’t really take. I don’t really remember what he liked specifically, so that isn’t much help.
So I was wandering lost amid the toy aisles of three stores, like Diogenes with a lamp, looking for a clue. One thing I saw was, for the most part, a toy must come with an intellectual property tie-in, especially to a Disney thing. Beyond that, I kept ruling things out. They’d either look complex but the package said “Ages 3+” or something (kids are smarter now than I was then, maybe) or they’d be based on some minute detail of a popular franchise, and I didn’t want to get a toy if the child might not have all the background. Maybe you’ve seen some of the Star Wars-branded stuff; LEGO has a huge line of sets for ships and characters that might’ve appeared in a mid-season episode of Clone Wars. I didn’t know any of these. Where’s the Millennium Falcon?2 Gah. It was all frustrating.
I ended up with a box containing two brainteaser puzzles made of wood. I never did very well with these, but maybe the recipient will enjoy solving them and get better spatial problem-solving skills as a result.3 And they have nothing to do with a film in recent release. I hope it’ll be OK. Maybe next year, I will borrow someone’s 9–12 year old child and make him/her select a toy they’d like, so I can buy it for … another child. Yeah, that’ll work really well, I’m sure. Maybe I’ll just give Toys for Tots cash.
Still have to buy toys for my great-nieces, ages 5 and 2. Eek.
1. A fine charity. I have no problems with them or their mission at all.
2. It should be mentioned for the sake of honesty that I have seen only the original Star Wars movie. There are two types of fans, Star Wars and Star Trek, and I’m firmly in the “Live Long and Prosper” camp.
3. In case you think selecting a potentially educational toy makes me no fun, you’ll be agreeing with my mother. Sadly. But that’s a rant for another time, if ever.