Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Birthday present disappointment

We haven't bought real presents for Mars' birthday before. We kind of figure that Mars wouldn't know the difference anyway for 1st and 2nd birthday. Plus he has enough 'stuff', we certainly don't need more toys. We've gone so far as to ask family and friends not to give them gifts for birthday/retail shopping season. A two year old does not need need hundreds of dollars worth of toys every birthday/xmas, and we are not trying to raise some little sheeple consumers.

For some reason we decided to buy him and Odin 'new' toys for birthdays. I think the first store bought new toys ever for both of them. From us at least. Yard sales and thrift stores have provided more than enough wooden blocks, lego, cars, dinosaurs, books, and action figures.

Shopping for presents we were surprised at how expensive new toys are. I was also amazed at how many need batteries - a pet peeve of mine, since they are wasteful, environmentally irresponsible, and cause toys to make the most annoying noises. When we are gifted noisy toys, they usually end up 'broken' after the batteries mysteriously disappear.

We bought Odin a rocking horse on springs. A nice old-fashioned toy. Way, way bigger than expected. A disappointment as well. It functions, but both stirrups are broken, capped nuts are broken exposing threaded bolts, and one of the spring holders is cracked. Thought about taking it back, but there was a toll free number in the instructions to get replacement parts. Of course a couple weeks later, when I get around to calling, the number was no longer in service. No replacement parts for me, and too late to return. A waste of money even at the 50% off we paid for it.

Thought we had found the most amazing present for Mars. "Crazy Forts". A set of balls and rods that plug together like giant tinker toys - throw a sheet over top and you have a play fort. You can build all different designs. Who could resist that? I loved building forts as a kid, Mars' favourite activity when visiting my dorm last winter was building forts with the cushions from the couches in the common room. Unfortunately, while a perfect idea, it was sorely lacking in execution. The rods don't go into the holes in the balls far enough and subsequently don't stay in place. So you build a big complicated fort, it keeps falling apart every time he touchs it. As far as I'm concerned, if you have to say "don't touch it or it will break", it is definitely not a toy. He lost interest in any use other than using the rods as swords to whack people, and Odin enjoyed hiding the little balls everywhere. Collected up all the parts and put them back in the box. Another waste of money.

Sigh. At least we had a nice little birthday party for Mars. Rented the gymnastics room for him and all his little friends from playgroup. Lots of running around and giddiness, throwing balls, somersaulting, and other fun. Then back to the house for cake and ice cream. Leaf made a really cool volcano cake with dinosaurs. Cousin Jovin was also up for a visit that weekend, and I think that was the best part of birthday for Mars.

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