A certain purple caterpillar is currently the bone of contention between the OPU and me. It was bought by him (while he was overwhelmed with emotion, in his words) as a ‘get well soon’ present when Re hit a table and cut his lip a few months ago.
I found it annoying. First, because it was a learning toy. The very phrase is an oxymoron, because if it’s a toy, it has no business to teach anything. So the moronic caterpillar (called Alphabet Pal, ironically) has the following features: Press this and it will mouth phonetic sounds. Press that and it will play the tune of a silly nursery rhyme. Press that and it will vomit alphabets. Press that and it will tell you what colour it is. And so on.
Re hasn’t spent more than 60 seconds on it. This proves that he is not a moron. The toy cost 1799. That is what I call a bad ROI.
I always find parents moaning that their kids never play with the toys they buy them, and yet, every time you walk into a toy store, and there they are, shopping like lunatics. What are they thinking? This might be the one? These 3000 rupees will be well spent? This toy will live longer than 60 seconds?
I figured I will not indulge in such material excesses and joined a toy library. On day one, I asked the lady in charge if she has a toy that doesn’t try to teach anything. She was stumped. She said that’s tough, because everything they had was designed to teach something. There went my enthusiasm. But at least I was eco-friendly, I thought. Slowly, I discovered a set of foam blocks that became Re’s favourite. The colours, the textures, the making, the breaking. I am all for motor skills. Anything that doesn’t involve learning the alphabet. Or some silly words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Or sillier nursery rhymes. And what business does a baby have learning what a dinosaur is, considering he is never going to see one?
On the other hand, there is my kitchen and all its steel south-indian excesses that Re loves. Kadais, dekchis, pressure cookers (with seetis, mind you), saucepans, chapati rollers and the rest. You bet, the mother had palmed off some of the utensils she’d been collecting (for my marriage!) since my childhood. I bet most of them came from giving away our own clothes to the bhandiwala. I liked that bit of history too, and filed it away, thinking one day, I will tell him where that Prestige pressure cooker came from.
And kurmura is the new cool in Re’s life. I give him a bowlful every day. He eats some, uses some for cooking, pretends some is rice, some is tea, and some are garlic pods to sauté (ever since onion and garlic became as expensive as caviar, they don’t figure in his playthings). He can stay in the kitchen all day unless he is pulled out. It’s great ROI. Money spent: zero. Joy gained: unlimited. Good toy.
Now take a quick look at your inventory of toys and tell me how many duds you found.