A drum. A child’s drum. Just a simply child’s drum suitable for an 18 month old. Shouldn’t be hard to find. Should be easy I hear you say. NOT. SO!
Yes it’s that time of year. Christmas is just around the corner and parents everywhere are scrabbling for what to get their child/ren. Some have the luxury of a Santa wish list that they can
steal borrow before posting to the North Pole. Others, like myself, currently have children who are yet to learn the miracle of speech, and therefore have to work out what they want for ourselves.
This year I thought I would have it easy. It wasn’t going to be like last year. Last year was Stormaggedon’s FIRST Christmas. And as it was his FIRST Christmas I of course had to get him something wonderful. Something special and meaningful. Something that he would cherish forever. Ironic considering it’s one of the Christmas’s he’ll definitely have absolutely no memory of (unless of course he’s some sort of Limitless mind genius). But the pressure was there none the less. In the end we bought him a plush Totoro toy (which was the same size of him at the time. And yes he loves playing with it still to this day), the complete Winnie the Pooh (which I found out later was in fact NOT the complete Winnie the Pooh, that was just how it was originally published and then A A Milne wrote more. Gah!), and This Book Has No Pictures (which although hilarious, really won’t pay off for another couple of years).
With the first Christmas out of the way, I expected that this year would be a breeze. Still too young to really understand what is going on, but old enough to be exicted on the day, I thought I wouldn’t have to go all out. This year it would just be simple gifts. Nothing extravegant or meaningful. Nothing much sort after. Just something I knew he would appreciate.So what better gift than to get him a drum. “What!?” I can hear you say. “Have you gone mad? What kind of idiot deliberately gets their almost toddler a drum” Ok yes, I can appreicate the disbalief. But here’s the thing: he likes to bash on everything as it is. And trust me when I say, I don’t think giving him a drum is going to make him any louder than he is. This kid has a set of lungs, and he likes the whole neighbourhood to know that. Plus I would really like to channel his bashing things energy into something that is deliberately made for it rather than say, my walls. Or TV.
So a drum it is, I decided. Just a simple one. Plastic, not too big, and hopefully not too expensive. The one that I had in mind was the one that he liked to play with at playgroup.
See how nice and simple that is. DO YOU THINK I CAN FIND THIS ANYWHERE! I have exhausted all shops that I can think of. Target, Kmart, Big W, Toys R Us, Mr Toys Toyworld, Myer, David Jones, Baby Bunting, and every random no name toy store that you get in the middle of shopping centres, I’ve scoured them all. Now this is not to say I haven’t found any toy drums for sale. That simply isn’t the case. Let me enlighten you on exactly what I have found.
This little number was what first caught my eye. A drum that you have to insert batteries into. Batteries. In a drum! I didn’t realise that an instrument you merely hit with a stick required batteries, but apparently the enlightened employees of Leap Frog are here to tell us differently. In order for our children to receive the correct stimulus they must have drums that contain flashing lights, and play 18 different tunes, probably in three separate languages. Because if you’re not encouraging your child to engage in enough brain stimulating activities, YOU CLEARLY DON’T LOVE THEM ENOUGH!
So of course after finding this one, it was only natural to stumble upon this monstrosity by Fisher Price:
Unassuming little thing isn’t it. Well give it a small tap with the provided drum sticks. Go on, I dare you. You’ll be met with an epileptic fit inducing light show, and an American accent yelling at you about how great you are. No thank you.
The further I searched the more I seem to be met with toys that contained all the bells and whistles. No, I’m not kidding, literally all the bells and whistles. I actually found this drum set in Toys R Us:
This drum has all of the above contained inside it. Look thanks, but I really don’t need all that other stuff, I just want the drum. What’s that? The drum doesn’t come separetly? Ok fine, well maybe I just get rid of all the other stuff when I get home and keep the drum. How much is it? $40. I see…..*flip over table counter and storm out*
To be honest I have actually found just a plain drum that, you know, doesn’t predict the weather or make cappuccinos or take you dog for a walk. Unfortunately it was $30. I have many years ahead of me of “But Mum, I really NEED this $150 prototype one of kind playset that all the other kids are getting for Christmas and if you don’t get it for me I’ll hate you forever!” I love my son, but I don’t need to be spending $30 on one gift this Christmas, when I’d prefer to spend that much for a few little things altogether.
So why this need to overcomplicate and over accessorise our toys? For the last few years we’ve been hearing about the importance of “stimulating” our babies’ brains. Stimulation leads to better concentration and focus, and therefore better IQs. Which leads to toy creations like these:
Look, I’m not saying these types of toys are bad, I even have a few for Stormy, and he loved to play with them when he was a newborn. But if we look at the childhoods of our parents and grandparents they never had anything at all like this and we keep getting told about how they all turned out just fine.
Amazingly someone has had the good sense to market “Olde Timey” type toys like this little gem:
However at 10cm in diametre and with an RRP of $25, I feel like that’s still too much money to be sepnding on something that is extremely liable to break when Stormy accidentally puts his foot through the top of it (and trust me, that is a very likely possibility). Seriously Kmart, you’re not being clever just by sticking something in a deliberately distressed looking recycled cardboard box, slapping “Classic” across the front of it and then charging $30 on average for toys the size of my hand.
Almost completely exhausted by this whole process I’ve even started to consider making a drum for Stormy. And yet I feel that somehow that wouldn’t be as good as getting him a shiney new toy from the store. Why do I feel like this?! How can making a toy for my child because I love them, make me feel like I’m being a cheap tightarse.
You know what? I blame this little guy:
Robosapien. Remember him. Remember how when he first came out everyone lost their minds? Remember how he could dance? And say a couple of pre-programed phrases. Remember how his eyes lit up? Remember how he cost something like $300. I’m sure all the parents who were forced to buy this thing for their kids for Christmas remember. Robosapien was the start of the plunge into the world of electronic toys. It was new and exciting, and had never really been done before. Not to this level in any case. And I think this was also when Christmas became about buying the biggest, the best, the shinest, and the most expensive toys you could find. Gone were the days of the simple drum, or making something out of love. If it didn’t come from a store, then it wasn’t worth the paper it was wrapped in.
In any case, I’m still not sure what I’m going to do about my drum dilemma. Do I make it, or do I fork out the $30 on the one that I’ve found, even if it’s not actually as good as the one that I’ve been searching for. Or do I turn to my old friend the internet and see what can be ordered online?
What are you thoughts? Have you also faced the same scenario? Attempted to find a simple toy only to be thawted at every turn? And most importantly, do you know where I can find the drum that I’ve been looking for?! Drop me a line in the comments sections below.
PS. Also if anyone is wondering, you can still get Classic Robosapien in Target for $98. Not that you would want to. Kids don’t find him cool anymore. They’d rather you get them a 3D printer. Or at least those cool pens that draw in 3D. Seriously, have you seen those things? They’re amazing!