Toys Need More Than Instructions
By Deana Nall
Published December 29, 2004
You must be relieved that your work is done and you can take it easy for another year. You deserve it, big guy. But as much as I appreciate you and all you stand for, I would like to lodge one complaint.
My head hurts.
No, I’m not hung over from anything. It’s the toys you brought my children. They are getting more and more difficult to figure out. I’ve been pining for Christmases past, when Julia, our oldest, was a preschooler and Christmas toys didn’t get much more complicated than a Teletubbie that proclaimed “Big hug” when you punched its stomach.
To give you an idea of how much things have changed, my husband spent yesterday afternoon trying to decipher the instructions to Julia’s “Mall Madness” board game. By the time he got it set up, he was ready for a nap. And he has a master’s degree. In fact, we’ve learned that our combined 14 years of higher education amount to jack squat when it comes to assembling and using our 5-year-old’s toys.
We must not be doing something right with her S’mores maker, because the marshmallows have been coming out medium rare. On her “Zoo Tycoon” computer game, in which you are supposed to create and manage your own zoo, lions keep escaping from their cages and chasing down terrified tourists.
And I’m not even sure David Copperfield could figure out Julia’s magic trick set. I made one of her baby sister’s socks disappear, and I still don’t know where it is.
Baby toys are no different. You left Jenna a Fisher-Price Kick and Whirl Carnival. It flashes lights, makes a lot of racket and lures our 4-month-old into a glassy-eyed stupor. We’re not complaining about that. It’s the miniature hardware store that came with it. By the time we got it assembled, my husband’s tool box appeared to have exploded all over our living room.
Please don’t take this the wrong way. We are truly grateful for everything. But let me share a line from the “Secret Instructions” to Julia’s magic tricks: “Take a newspaper and glue together the bottom and sides of two pages to make a secret compartment, with the opening at the top.”
I’ve gone through so many newspapers trying to glue them just right that I’m going to need a second subscription. My child will be signing up for AARP by the time I get this figured out.
I realize that children no longer ask for Raggedy Anns or building blocks or other toys that don’t require batteries, warranties or instructions that have been loosely translated into English from Swahili. So here is my solution. Why not offer Continuing Education classes for parents on toy assembly and usage? I know that right now, I could go for a detailed lecture titled “Yes, You Can Dress a Polly Pocket!”
Just something to think about. By the way, thank you for the Sony TV/weather/FM/AM/CD under-the-cabinet kitchen clock radio you brought me. My husband installed it in about three minutes.