I’ve mentioned before we don’t go all hog-wild with Mac’s toy collection. For one thing, he’s over the stuff before it practically leaves the packaging. For another, we don’t have room in this house for too much ginormous plastic stuff.
We try to keep a well-edited selection favoring items with an educational or imaginative aspect to them – books, art supplies, blocks, instruments, and the like.
I realize when he gets a little older, we’ll probably have to switch up our tactics but so far, this has worked for us.
EXCEPT. . .
EXHIBIT A: The Melissa and Doug shape sorter. We’ve been using this little gem since Mac was old enough to grasp objects. I’ve used it in a variety of ways to teach colors, to teach shapes, to teach counting. . .It’s never let me down. Until now. . .
Now Mac is at a stage where he is able to understand the toy’s primary purpose – getting the blocks in their appropriately shaped holes. He’s doing pretty well. But some of them are a little tricky (vexing parallelogram!).
So when we are playing with the shape sorter, I go out of my way to explain the thought process behind getting the blocks in the correct hole. “Look, this one has five sides. It’s a PENTAGON! Pentagons have five sides. Let’s look for a hole that has five sides. That’s where this block will fit.”
But then I’m faced with this shit:
Yes. One of these is supposed to fit in the “square hole” and the other in the “rectangle.”
When viewed from one vantage point, the difference is subtle but discernible. However, if viewed from other vantage points, both of these stupid blocks are indeed RECTANGLES. Furthermore, they are the same damned color making it even more perplexing for little folks.
For all the wood products Melissa and Doug offers, you mean to tell me a FUCKING cube is out of the question? You couldn’t provide a block that was SQUARE ON ALL SIDES?!
Do you think my kid has the attention span necessary for me to explain this kind of crap? Do you think I have the patience?
I’d leave the explanation up to his Father; however, that man has yet to successfully get the parallelogram block in the hole on the first try so clearly he has zero credibility.
EXHIBIT B: Splashing Shapes Book
This is just a simple little book Mac’s Mimi gave him the last time we visited. How timely! We are currently LOVING us some shapes! This book is called “Splashing Shapes” and touts itself as a “TEACHING TAB BOOK.” Let’s have a look at the first page shall we?
WHAT THE HELL?!
After I spent all that time with Mac using the shape sorter explaining “Octo” meant EIGHT, I asked him to count the tentacles on the octopus.
How clever, Deni, another way to reinforce the concept of ‘octo’ plus he can practice counting and saying octopus! SCORE.
“One, two, three. . .” He started in his sweet little voice.
“Yes, yes, that’s right,” I encouraged him.
“Four, five, six.” Then he stopped.
I started counting myself. Sure enough this stupid octopus only has SIX tentacles!
WHAT?! I furiously counted three more times. I couldn’t locate any extra tentacles. Son of a gun!
Why would these bastards make an octopus with only six tentacles and then suggest that children count them? What a crock!
Don’t you dare give me some argument about aesthetics or artistic license. You see the quality of the illustrations in this book. They are cute. They are not exactly fine art.
I stammer at Mac come convoluted explanation about how “octo” really means eight and octopus indeed have eight tentacles but when you draw things you can make them look however you like and that’s why drawing is fun. . .
And then he looked at me through squinty eyes. . .He clearly realized I was a woman on the edge of crazy. . .Then he forcefully turned the page.
I can’t imagine why he thinks I’m freaking crazy.