Portent of the Impending Apocalypse: seven foot tall birds and talking frogs

With two major toy recalls (eleventy million Mattel toys and most
red-painted Thomas the Tank Engine vehicles), you would think that the
parents of any toddler or preschooler would be ranting and raving about
the sheer waste of money on these toys and how they'll probably have to
adopt destitute street kids just to get a little love because their own
spawn now hate them for taking Elmo and Dora away. But truth be told,
the impact has been minimal around chez Mikestand. Out of all the Thomas
recalls, we had one engine that was affected. The Mattel mass recall put
our one (only) Diego figurine on the naughty list, and even that was
purely over-reactionary, since it was purchased long, long before the
"suspected" risky items were produced.

Why, you ask? Because generally speaking, our kids don't live or die by
Walt Disney, Barney, Dora, and Sesame Street.

Sure, they have their little obsessions, but so far we've gotten off
easily by most standards. Older Son is quite a Thomas fan, but either
has not reached the age where he's jumping up and down and pitching a
royal fit in the toy aisle, or just doesn't care enough about one particular item in the store He's got a couple DVDs and some books, and he's quite
content to memorize and regurgitate the same old stories, until his
parents are so stunned by the repetition that we go out and buy a new
video just so that WE have something new to watch. Younger son seems
content to play with whatever his brother has in his hand at any given
moment (Sharing? Huh?), so the only risk we run is buying identical toys
for both kids and getting burned by a recall.

The benefits side of the balance sheet are plain to see: generally
in-control budget, no dependence on television programming (yet, though
I may someday use it as a tactic so that I can finally achieve DVR
status), and no insane collecting of licensed toys and other
paraphernalia. Sure, we have a few items of clothing with licensed
characters on them, but very little screaming and gnashing of teeth when
it's time to get dressed and the Mader T-shirt is in the hamper or, god
forbid, the washer. Generally, we try to avoid a high degree of
attachment to any one object; books, toys or stuffed animals included.

The Lovely Wife ran into a slight issue the other day, wherein she was
trying to prepare Older Son for the impending trip to Florida and The
Land of Parental Hell,
Home-of-Kids-on-Leashes-and-Many-Nervously-Chewed-Fingernails (Disney
World) in September. Because Older Son is not well-acquainted with
Disney characters (I think he can probably name 2 or three characters
from Pixar movies, but shown a picture of Mickey Mouse and queried as to
who it is, he answers (as though we are clearly crazy), "That's a mouse,
daddy."), TLW thought it would be good to head into Hell in a Mall (The
Disney Store) and see if she could find some books with Disney
characters in them. Guess what? No books. I repeat: NO BOOKS IN THE
STORE. Just DVDs, sticker albums, and other toss-away junk that most
parents wouldn't dare invest their hard earned money in just to see it
crushed, busted, and quickly disposed of. Has Disney gone from
character-driven stories to screen-delivered media? If so, I think I'm
appalled. Or at least mildly vindicated in my unofficial boycott of the
scourge.

So I guess we have to find a new way to introduce the kid to Disney;
perhaps some old movies! Like, maybe... Bambi? (Pow!), or Fantasia!
(Oooh, trippy!), or.... Oh, hell, let the kid get scared witless by some
big stuffed dog or a duck with no pants. Because that's what childhood
is really all about: irrational fears propagated by our parents for
which we'll someday leech off their medical plan as we attend weekly
therapy sessions.

Posted bythemikestand at 1:26 PM  

8 stepped up to the mike:

Steph said... 2:41 PM, August 08, 2007  

I shudder at the thought of what gifts my future children may receive from well-intentioned family. I'd really prefer that they become attached to books and music (The Beatles, not Barney) over Dora and her minions.

Please don't remind me of this when I someday blog about plunking my children in front of yet another Disney movie for the 400th time so that I can knit in peace.

Dustin said... 3:28 PM, August 08, 2007  

Seriously, the greatest gift I ever got as a kid was a butter knife and a 10 pack of soap. My mom ran out of mantel space trying to display my soap creation masterpieces.

Good clean fun (pun intended).

cronznet said... 4:26 PM, August 08, 2007  

Over lunch today I was ranting about how Disney kills moms quicker than you can blink. I hope I don't have to introduce my kid to The Evil Empire, but will probably lose out to peer pressure. Maybe my view was influenced by being terrified at Disneyland when I wasn't yet four years of age...
Hope it goes well. Do please keep us posted.

Brianna said... 11:19 PM, August 08, 2007  

no books? wtf? WTF? W? T? F?

God.

The Rescuers is sweet... and probably totally uncool in the preschooler set.

Lesley said... 10:17 AM, August 09, 2007  

No books at all? They used to have a line of really nice hardcover versions of their movies, we have the ones from Toy Story and Monsters Inc and they are really nice. I'm suprised that there are none in right now.
My toddler's current obsession is Dragons and Dinosaurs. She's crazy about them. But...they all have to have mommies. If we get a new one, she spends quite a lot of time asking me "But, where is his mommy? He misses his mommy!"

SRH said... 10:19 AM, August 09, 2007  

Little Man does not like Disney stuff too much. He watches Noggin religiously, but doesn't really like Diego or Dora (Dego and Dorva, makes for some interesting conversations at home). He doesn't like watching Thomas, because those aren't the trains you see on the rails here. He is a conundrum of market penetration.

chRistine said... 8:39 AM, August 10, 2007  

disney is evil, and when we went to florida, i avoided the mouse. we went swimming, to kennedy space centre, and that sort of thing.

it does NOT surprise me at all that they do not have books in their store.

thankfully, i did the same as you, and mostly avoided having my children dependent on a corporation for their entertainment. :)

allrileyedup said... 9:58 PM, August 11, 2007  

For the record, I love Disney. And Walt Disney was a fine man. Michael Eisner, not so much.

As for a movie to creep the kids out, I always found Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty to be particularly scary and evil. The woman kills someone's child because she wasn't invited to their party. Helloooooo? Can we say unstable?

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