Far too many toys, better options

Many children are given far too many toys. It isn’t good for them, and the costs is not good for families. Simple old fashioned play endures.

A toyshop owner in Dunedin who is getting out of the business makes these points in: Toyworld story coming to an end

A Dunedin toy shop owner is set to end a 14-year career of ‘‘fun’’.

Linda Verity bought Toyworld Dunedin when it was in the Golden Centre in 2004, then moved it to Vogel St for a year in 2010 before space in Arthur Barnett in the Meridian Mall became available to sub-lease seven years ago.

Now she is closing the store.

Owning a toy shop was ‘‘fun’’, she said.

‘‘It’s cool to sell toys.’’

As any kid will know it’s also cool to get toys. But too many toys has been a problem for a long time.

I remember a family Christmas last century, actually the second Christmas event of the day, an afternoon gathering. After another round of present opening some nephews started chanting “we want more presents, we want more presents”.  At Christmas it can be more common to see a child looking for the next present rather than enjoying and valuing the one they just opened.

Parents give more presents now, and present giving circles have widened substantially to what I experienced as a child – now it’s not just children but also siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunties – there is relentless pressure for the present list to grow.

Ms Verity:

Over the 14 years, children had stopped playing with toys at a younger age

In the past, toys could be sold to children aged up to 14 but now older children preferred cellphones or video games.

‘‘We struggle to find something for an 8-year-old girl.’’

A 10-year-old boy was a struggle to buy for if he didn’t like Lego or science kits.

She’s right. Boys in particular from 8 onwards want something electronic, preferably game related.

She wished people would buy their child one quality toy for Christmas.

‘‘Obviously it goes against the grain because I want to sell them toys but it would be nice not to swamp kids with too many toys, but they do — they want to spoil them.’’

But kids are increasingly swamped, and decreasingly appreciative of what they get.

It’s hard to resist the commercialisation of Christmas, and birthdays, and movies, and just going to get a burger.

I know of one 6 year old who has now over 70 cat toys, ranging from large and expensive, to cheap repeats, where sets and series purchases are pushed, both by marketers and by children.

It is nuts.

I’ve had grandchildren staying over the past couple of weeks. They have really liked a couple of RC cars. But things they have enjoyed over and over:

  • Feeding the hens and collecting eggs, this is a daily compulsion
  • Tree hut
  • Trolley (well used for years)
  • ‘Monster swing’ made from hanging a rope between two trees
  • Digging – a grubber has been popular
  • ‘Tree trampoline’ – a pile of gum tree branches
  • Tree stumps
  • A collection of wood offcuts have been recycled yet again
  • I sliced some branches of different sizes to make some wooden money
  • Back yard cricket
  • A 4 year old has used a fly swatter for a number of things (not swatting flies)

We have visited six different beaches, several playgrounds, gardens, aviary, all only petrol cost. At one playground the most popular thing was a tree for climbing for two children, and the third played most with a branch (at one stage it was a TV, and sticks were rempte controls).

The only significant expense has been $47 for four adults and four children for four hours at the fifty years old Moana Pool. Wave pool, water slide, river, diving boards, inflated obstacle course. This facility is better than any pool complex I have been to in Brisbane (and there the queues for the water slides are awful, strictly controlled and long).

Battery fueled plastic crap usually has a short life span. Some old play pastimes are timeless.

The best thing you can give children is time and engagement. And it’s a lot of fun for adults too.

Real guns good, toy guns bad

Only in the USA – at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio it will be legal to openly carry real firearms, but toy guns won’t be allowed.

Wall Street Journal:

Ahead of GOP Convention, Cleveland Officials Affirm Protesters May Carry Guns

But water guns, toy guns, knives, aerosol cans, rope, tennis balls are barred

Cleveland officials said Wednesday that they will uphold the right of protesters at the Republican National Convention to carry firearms even as they expressed opposition to the state’s open carry laws.

Speaking to reporters in advance of the Republican National Convention next week, both Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson and police Chief Calvin Williams said they were bound by the state’s laws allowing people to carry guns even if they disagreed with them.

“Our intent is to follow the law. And if the law says you can have open carry, that’s what it says. Whether I agree with it or not is another issue,” said Mayor Jackson in a press conference.

That was a sentiment also echoed by the city’s police chief. Asked if he would prefer that people be prevented from carrying weapons at the Republican National convention, Chief Williams said, “Of course.”

“It’s the law in this state. As police chief, I’m bound to uphold the law in this state,” he added.

The group Oath Keepers said this week that they would appear at the RNC armed, while the chairman of the New Black Panther Party also said that his group may carry weapons at an event designed to protest police brutality in advance of the RNC. Event organizers of the police brutality event later said that no armed demonstrators were expected.

Just to make sure that nothing bad happens:

Cleveland has banned a wide array of items inside a broad zone in downtown Cleveland around the convention site, including water guns, toy guns, knives, aerosol cans, rope, tennis balls and others.

But because of Ohio’s open carry laws, protesters who legally own a firearm will be allowed to carry it near the convention center.

This doesn’t make sense.

I’m sure carrying ropes, tennis balls and water guns is not illegal generally under Ohio laws.

The right to carry them probably isn’t enshrined in law though.

However it seems very odd that safe things can be banned and firearms can’t.