When my firstborn son was about five months old, we visited family in Austin, Texas. My cousin and her husband had a baby nearly the same age. Joe and I were thrilled to be staying with people who were as tired and nonsensical as we were. No explanations or apologies were required. If we all successfully remembered to shower and nod appropriately when someone spoke, the day was considered a triumph.
Yet upon first entering my cousin's home, I could not help but notice an abundance of colorful baby toys designed to meet developmental milestones and engage young children.
That's when it occurred to me.
Danny had only one toy.
A stuffed squirrel.
"Nutty" was a failure when it came to teaching critical baby skills. He was soggy and mangled, and he was also missing one eye. While all the other babies were undoubtedly learning Latin with their fancy Melissa & Doug puzzles, my kid was stuck with a miserable wet rodent and sugar packets from Denny's.
My baby also believed that squirrels only had one eye.
The second we returned home, I anxiously began investigating every award-winning product out there. Never again would my son know developmental stagnation because I forgot to buy nesting blocks and bead mazes.
I became a toy guru. I knew which ones improved hand-eye coordination and which ones aided with problem-solving. As my three boys grew older, I rationalized Nerf guns as being indicative of future careers in law enforcement. While I originally resisted Pokemon cards, I changed my tune when I discovered their impact on burgeoning math skills.
With the annual Chicago Toy & Game Fair in Chicago this weekend, and open to the public, I personally cannot wait to check out the latest generation of toys. The two-day event at Navy Pier provides attendees a chance to play with and purchase this year's hottest toys. I am also looking forward to meeting the inventors behind all the fun, and I'm a little curious as to what inspired those Planet Sock Monkey people. Sock monkeys crack me up. I think I'm going to need to get a Planet Sock Monkey. Mostly because I like saying sock monkey.
It feels risqué.
Anyway, a $2 off coupon is available HERE, and be sure to check out all the other kid-friendly events going on this weekend!
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.