chick's picks: toys that aren't toys

We are cheap.

I mean, super cheap when it comes to our kid's toys. We typically buy toys at consignment stores or the Goodwill. My favorite place to buy books for Chicken is a website called Better World Books, which sells most used children's books for under $4 and donates a book for every book you buy.

My stance is that you shouldn't have nice things if you're still shitting yourself and/or eating soup with your hands.

Plus, he doesn't care. At 2.5, he hasn't quite reached the level of brand awareness that will necessitate a discussion about why he doesn't have a train table like little Jimmy, or a brand-new Jeep roadster like Michelle.

Here's a universal truth. Toddlers love all new things, no matter how much they cost, for the exact same 45 minutes when you first roll them out. And after that, whether you spent 25 cents or 200 bucks on that toy, that shit is going to get old. He's gonna be all, "ew, that? OVER IT!" (snap snap snap.)

So when it comes to toys, Ryan and I like to play a game called How Little Can We Spend On Our Child's Toys While Still Giving Him Things He Is Really Going To Love And Maybe Even Learn Something From While Playing With Them. The title needs work, I know.

Thankfully, we send him to an amazing day care that has the same philosophy. Every morning when I drop Chicken off, I see another fabulous recycled toy:

A stacking toy made of velcro hair curlers and a paper towel roll holder.
A cardboard box that has been retaped and is about to be covered with paint and then have cars and trucks driven through that paint. 
Styrofoam packing blocks being stabbed to death with pipe cleaners.

Children know when we've handed them a sanitized version of the real deal. They want the real deal. You might hand your kid an Elmo phone so he can "be like mommy" but your kid's like "Ha, that's cute. Now hand over the iPhone." Ain't nobody buying that shit. It would be like watching your dad drink scotch out of a nice, heavy-bottomed glass while sipping your root beer out of a dixie cup.

After watching Chicken and his friends play happily with these around-the-housey, definitely NOT TOY toys, I am more convinced than ever that I should be buying Chicken's toys from Ace hardware and the Goodwill.

What's so great about not-toy toys? I'll lay it out for you:

1. You're showing your children that you believe they are capable of drinking scotch out of a real glass, so to speak.

2. They are cheap.

3. They are more environmentally responsible, since you're recycling goods rather than feeding the demand for new goods.

4. Your parent friends will think you're amazing.

5. They are fun.

Here are Chick's Picks, Top 5 Not-Toy Toys:

1. Phone.
Like the one your babysitter used to use to call for Pizza Hut delivery.
Like the one your first boyfriend ever called you on.
Like the one mounted on the wall in Roseanne's kitchen.
A phone. I bought one today for $2.99. Stocking stuffer!

2. Dress-up kit.

The Goodwill is a treasure trove of wacky toddler dress-up gear. Think scarves, chunky beaded jewelry, hats, fun sunglasses, vests... actually, you know what?

Just buy everything Johnny Depp would wear on a red carpet plus butterfly wings and a fireman helmet.

3. Camera.

One that used film. Bonus points if you find one with a satisfyingly clicking winding wheel.

4. Jars, Boxes, and Lids

Baby food, cosmetic, decorative boxes. Put together a box'o'boxes so he can match up lids to vessels. Melissa and Doug can suck it, y'all.

5. Typewriter, Keyboard, Laptop

These are a little pricier/harder to find at Goodwill, but honestly, are still so much cheaper, hardier, and easier to maintain than a Leapfrog or iPad.

Happy thrifting, you guys.



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