The challenge of being The Toy Police during the Holidays

An interesting thing happened upon opening our Hanukkah presents a few days ago… our son and daughter were given cute, if somewhat wacky, slippers from a relative who knew that we do our best to avoid visible, overt characters and brands on our toys. When we looked, however, we realized that the slippers were Hello Kitty and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We were surprised, needless to say!

Our kids had no idea who the turtles were, and when we asked the relatives later, they didn’t realize that either were “characters”; they thought that the slippers were “cute turtles” and “kitties”.

We don’t have Barbie dolls, Pokemon trading cards, Star Wars collectibles, Spiderman pajamas, or any of the other deitrius of modern brand aware toys in our house. But we don’t want to be fascists about it either. Our desire is easy to explain though: we want to let our children enjoy toys for their playability, not because of coordinated marketing campaigns and million dollar child manipulation efforts by corporations.

What’s a modern attachment parenting, Waldorf educating couple to do?

We took a deep breath and decided not to worry about these slippers. If our 4yo son G- wants to think of them as goofy turtles (which is what they look like anyway) and our relatives continue to see them as cute little turtle slippers, then that’s what they are.

The Hello Kitty slippers are a bit more tricky because our 8yo definitely knows the brand, as it happens. But we’re watching and waiting. As with many new acquisitions around the holidays, they’ll likely fade in importance and by the spring be in our giveaway box, no arguments, no hassles, just the way it goes…

How do you handle it in your household, if you get presents that “cross the line” and aren’t the kind you want your kids to be playing with?

3 comments on “The challenge of being The Toy Police during the Holidays

  1. We have well-meaning relatives who tend to get our children items that we’d rather they not have, ranging from character-oriented items (Harry Potter, Batman, etc.) to plastic toys (for our wooden-toy-filled house). It’s a constant struggle, since we vocalize our concerns about these things when birthdays and holidays come around, and our concerns generally fall on deaf ears. As a result, most all of the things are either returned and exchanged for more durable, educational, and “traditional” toys and games, or donated to Goodwill when we do deep house cleaning.
    I think this is one of the major challenges as an AP, anticonsumerism parent in this world today. We live in an especially affluent part of our metropolitan area, which makes it all the more difficult to explain to perceptive children why, really, getting a zillion Spiderman Legos isn’t a good thing.

  2. I think this guy is going overboard like many of you. I have always done attachment style parenting (kids nursed til they were 3 and 4 yrs old, went to LLL mtgs for 10 years), homeschooling, kids never went to school, never spanked, family bed, cloth diapers, etc. etc. and we also never had violent toys in the house or any other junky toys. But now the kids are 8, 12 and 14 and I see now that I was just a little too ‘anal’ about it all. I never even wanted them to have hotdogs unless they were tofu. Never McDonald’s, etc. etc. But when you have 3 kids, are homeschooling, a stay at home mom, it’s hectic and you start to take the easy way out (hotdogs, a little tv…) and after awhile you start to realize that they’re going to be just fine if they play with a toy gun or pick up a sword, eat a hotdog, watch a video, get babysat. We can’t be perfect and trying to parent that way can really burn you out. After years of trying to be perfect, I ended up on Prozac (for about a year, then off for good). Now that I’m not trying to be perfect, it does get easier. So, don’t try to be the perfect mom and realize that they will survive if they go to McDonald’s and play with a sword now and then. They’ll have friends, have sleepovers and watch tv you won’t want them to watch. You can’t keep from living their life and being influenced by others. You’ll die trying!

  3. I THINK PARENTING IS LIKE ANYTHING–YOU LEARN FROM THE INFORMATION GIVEN TO YOU AND YOU HAVE TO PUT HARD WORK INTO ANYTHING TO ACHIEVE POSITIVE RESULTS (DOES YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW RING A BELL?!)
    IF YOU WATCH TV ALL THE TIME, WHAT EXACTLY ARE YOU WATCHING (DISCOVERY CHANNEL OR CARTOON NETWORK.) CARTOON NETWORK IS OK SOMETIMES, BUT CHILDREN NEED TO KNOW THAT THERE SHOULD BE SOME KIND OF BALANCE (WE ALL KNOW TOO MUCH OF ANYTHING IS NO GOOD!)
    SAME THING WITH VIDEO GAMES IT’S OK SOMETIMES, BUT AS A PARENT, YOU HAVE TO POLICE YOUR CHILDREN AND SET LIMITS.
    SOME PEOPLE THINK IT IS OK TO BAN ALL “COMERCIAL ITEMS” FROM THERE HOUSE. WELL WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPENS WHEN YOUR CHILDREN ARE 13, 14, 15 AND 16 AND THEY START TO GET INTO THE REAL WORLD? THEY ARE GOING TO BE ANGRY THAT YOU DID NOT GIVE THEM A CHOICE. (YOU DON’T HAVE TO ACCEPT ALL COMMERICALISM, BUT IN THIS DAY AND AGE, UNLESS YOU LIVE W/THE QUAKERS (NOT MEANT TO INSULT ANY OF YOU OUT THERE, JUST STATING A POINT) YOU CAN ONLY SHELTER YOUR KIDS FOR A LITTLE WHILE AND THEN THEY WILL GO INTO THE REAL WORLD.
    I WOULD LET THEM HAVE THEIR CHOICE OF A FEW COMMERICAL ITEMS THAT YOU DEEM ACCEPTABLE (THERE MUST BE SOMETHING THAT YOU APPROVE OF AND DON’T SAY THERE IS NOTHING, BECAUSE THERE IS SOMETHING OUT THERE FOR EVERY RACE, CREED AND RELIGION.)
    POINT OUT TO YOUR KIDS THE IMPORTANCE OF LIKING SOMETHING BECAUSE THEY LIKE IT, NOT BECAUSE IT’S THE LATEST FAD AND EVERYONE ELSE HAS ONE. IF YOU GIVE YOUR KIDS HONEST CHOICES, THEY WILL RESPECT THAT MORE THAN SHELTERING THEM FROM THINGS THAT THEY SHOULDN’T BE SHELTERED FROM, JUST MADE AWARE OF.
    AS PARENTS, WE ALL WANT TO BE PERFECT; LETS FACE IT; IF THIS WERE TRUE, WE WOULDN’T BE HERE ON EARTH IN ITS PRESENT STATE!
    I THINK WE NEED TO SET GOOD EXAMPLES, BUT LET OUR CHILDREN KNOW WE ARE NOT PERFECT AND WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES, PUNISH THEM WHEN THEY DISOBEY, BUT GENUINELY FORGIVE THEM WITHOUT HARPING ON PAST MISTAKES.

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