Friday, February 08, 2008

Buying for your kid

My kid is the chiefest joy in my life. She is witty and energetic and lovely. She is like getting a bouquet of flowers every day.

When I was a kid, I loved action figures and role playing games. I have resisted forcing my own geek tendencies upon my daughter, so I have held off buying her the things that I loved until she shows interest. It warms my heart that she likes dinosaurs and Pokemon.

I am also an inveterate collector, from way back. I had many, many Star Wars toys, comic books, and game books as a kid and a young man. I still have some of them, though I've cut way back on collecting.

With all of this, when I go toy shopping for my kid, there is a definite temptation to over spend. Even though I'm closing in on forty, I love the Playschool animal toys. And when I see Pokemon toys, even though I'm not nearly as big a fan as Poppy, there's still a seductive call to catch 'em all.

Walking in the toy isle at Meijer's Thrifty Acres before Christmas, I formulated some thoughts about how to buy toys for your kid, and why:

1) Set a budget: It could probably be lower than you think it should be. See below.

2) They won't play with them all: Although it is true that Poppy has grown into some toys, there are some I might as well have not taken out of the box. Many of the big ticket toys that Poppy wants stay unplayed with in her room most of the year, while she takes the same inexpensive toys out over and over.

3) They'll ask for what they want: You shouldn't guess too much. Whatever they ask to watch on TV, whatever books or movies or shows they like, buy along with. Dinosaurs never fail to please Poppy. Same with Pokemon.

4) Some of the things they ask for, they don't want: Complex toys, the expensive ones, often don't get played with as much. Often, toys that do complex tricks are one trick ponies, and wear out their welcome after several repetitions. And if they need adult supervision to do their trick, it's probably not worth the price tag.

4) You don't have to catch them all: What are you going to buy for the next holiday, anyway? Let the collection grow slowly. They may lose interest in a year, and if they don't, then you still have stuff to give them the second year into their infatuation. Win-win.

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