Posted by: laughs4dads | November 29, 2010

The Invasion

They walk, they talk.  They roar, they soar.  They tumble, rumble, shake and break.

They are everywhere.  And they are coming to get you.

They will invade your peaceful home.  And it will be your innocent child who welcomes them into your home.

TOYS!

In our case, they arrived even before our daughter did.  Little furry things, their interior organs made from genuine recycled materials.

Then came the noisy things.  Mobiles that hung over the crib and circled our infant like vultures that happened to be singing “You Are My Sunshine.”  And rattles that were aptly named because that is exactly what they do to the brains of adults.

Then came the moving things.  Bunnies that hopped.  Bears that sauntered.  Scooters and wagons and trikes. Oh my. 

Then there were bigger furry things.  Dogs and dinosaurs and pigs and other, less definable species. 

And, worse of all, the multiple-piece things.  Plastic cubes and cylinders, meant to fit into the appropriate holes of a box and used instead to apparently replace breadcrumbs so that Casey could retrace her path through the house if she had to. 

And Lego Blocks.

Lego Blocks are very nice.  There is, I understand, an entire village somewhere in Scandinavia made solely of Lego Blocks.  I have to assume that babies are not allowed near it or it would have been reduced to multi-colored rubble long ago.

While I’m sure Lego Blocks are intended to stimulate a child’s creativity, what they actually do is stimulate the seemingly innate instinct in children to want to lead blitzkrieg attacks over London.  Here is how Casey would play with Lego Blocks:  she’d sit by calmly watching my creativity get stimulated; she’d hover patiently as my structures grew taller and more architecturally sophisticated; she’d wait cunningly as I completed what could pass as a red, yellow and blue scale model of the Chrysler Building.  And then, with a kamikazee cry which, for all I could tell, might have really been in Japanese, she would strike.  Legos would go flying everywhere, possibly into New Jersey, so that weeks later we were still finding them in the far reaches of the house.  That is how Casey played with Lego Blocks.

Early on, before she knew better, Barbara found the sheer number of toys very taxing, not because she had to clean them up, but because she felt obligated to name them all.  Not that she put an awful lot of creative effort into it.  A small, collapsible man that suctioned onto Casey’s walker was called “Mr. Man.”  I think you need no further examples.

Casey was sort of fickle when it came to most of her toys.  She’d sometimes pick up a toy at which she had never looked twice and play with virtually nothing else for a week.  In other cases, a favorite would suddenly fade from favor and get exiled to the rear of her playpen, evidently to be forgotten until the precise moment when Barbara decided to store it in the garage or send it up to Casey’s younger cousin, Errin, who lived near Boston (where, fortunately, her parents also resided). Then it became a favorite again.

Among the toys that lasted the longest were Casey’s puppet collection: Ernie and Bert; Oscar; Grover; Mickey Mouse; a mynah bird named Mikey; and a cow.  All of them had set routines from which they were not permitted to deviate.  They also had distinct voices and vocabularies.  The cow, for instance, said only two words: “MMMMMOOO,” of course, and then, when Casey put a New York Mets cap on its head, “MMMEEETS.”  The games we played with the puppets were usually quiet and relatively neat, but a problem arose when Casey insisted that we play with three at one time.

One of Casey’s favorite toys was something called The Marbleworks.  This thing combined the scariest elements of her other toys: many parts that could get strewn about haphazardly; the need to be built and then, of course, destroyed; lots of noise; and, last and certainly least, six marbles which had uses beyond this actual game, such as being inserted in father’s navel.  Anyway, I would use all these various track sections to build a raceway, then Casey would put the marbles in the top (painstakingly placing one in each starting gate), tilt the top forward and yell “There they go.”  When they got to the bottom, she’d do it all over again.  And again.  And again.

Marbleworks marked an increased maturity on Casey’s part.  For instance, she did not destroy the structure immediately after I built it.  And when it was time to put it away, she’d help dismantle it in an orderly fashion and even put the pieces back in the box.

We also built our first verbal game around the marbles.  This was the dialogue that took place every time we played with them:

CASEY: Darmles?
ME: Marbles.
CASEY: Darmles.
ME:  Marbles.
CASEY:  Darmles.
ME: Say “Mar.”
CASEY: Mar.
ME: Say “Bles.”
CASEY: Bles.
ME: Marbles.
CASEY: Darmles.
BOTH: Toys!

She knew very well how to say “Marbles,” and there was this twinkle in her eye to show me that she knew, and she knew that I knew, that we were playing a game.  The only trouble was, we did it so often, I would find myself saying “Darmles” in normal conversation. Fortunately, the subject never came up at work.

Anyway, as we enter the holiday shopping season, don’t forget to get yourself the one thing that will help you deal with all the toys around your house.

A bigger house.

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