Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I am an activity center

Have you seen these Fisher-Price commercials? Kind of makes you think the Geico robot daycare commercial is just a little less funny?

Don't get me wrong, Willow has toys and will have more as she gets older. Right now she has two wrist rattles and a small Waldorf style doll whose name, Bellbonnet, is pretty self explanatory. She also really enjoys one of my hankies with a knot tied in one corner. Daddy is making her a wooden egg rattle and wooden teething ring for Christmas (sssshhh...don't tell). We play on the floor and she reaches for these toys, occasionally grasping one and flailing wildly with it. She is even already able to entertain herself sometimes and spends ten or fifteen minutes on her back or side just staring at her hands, or the corner of the room or the flames of the fire. Most of the time, however, I am an activity center.

Parents really are the best activity centers and don't even require batteries. We can jiggle, swing and bounce. We sing an infinite ever-changing variety of songs and produce any number of other sound effects. Fisher-Price's tagline on their commercials is "How does your baby learn?" They then proceed to show some toy that the baby can imitate or that causes some response to the baby's action. Again, parents are extremely versatile in this way. When Willow "talks", I talk back. She plays at "scooting" by pressing her feet against Daddy's hands to propel herself up his chest. We laugh and she laughs back. Soon she'll learn to clap and wave bye bye and any number of other things by imitating what we do. I do occasionally wish that I could steal a little more time without my little cling-on. Cooking, dishes, and laundry do all take longer with her on my chest but she's getting priceless lessons in being a human and we've probably saved hundreds of dollars in baby gear.

I think what has really gotten my dander up is that it feels like toy companies are trying to undermine our worth as parents. "You can't possibly give your baby what it needs, let us sell it to you." And it always requires batteries. And it is always made of plastic which, if the company is lucky, will break even before baby number two arrives.

I'm not buying it. We are what our baby needs.

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