Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

An exercise in futility

Miriam is all about playing outside these days, so we decided to buy her some kind of tricycle or ride-on toy. We discussed it as we rode our bikes to the park yesterday (Miriam was in the bike trailer). Imagine our surprise when, arriving at the park, we saw about fifty little kids riding every kind of tricycle, big wheel, bike, and ride-on toy you could think of. Someone was having a birthday party at the park and apparently, the invitation said to Bring Your Own Bike.

So in addition to playing on the park equipment, Miriam got to take a look at what's out there in the children's bike and trike department. A few of the moms even let her try out their kids' vehicles. One of them was a motor-powered mini jeep. Miriam controlling her own motor-powered movement was a hilarious sight, but we wanted her toy to be more of an exercise and play thing, not just a ride.

Later that day, we went to ToysRUs. The only other time we've been in that store was to buy Miriam a set of blocks a few months ago. That's because I hate ToysRUs. It's like living in a neverending Saturday morning cartoons commercial. You just feel so bombarded by brands, gimmicks, and obnoxious packaging, immediately upon entering the store.

The situation is dire: you know how in most stores, aisles are organized by subject, and have little signs telling you what you can find there? Well, at ToysRUs, those signs say things like "Dora the Explorer," "Winnie the Pooh," and "Backyardigans" (I'm not sure about that last one). That's right: instead of going to the store wanting to buy, say, a sand play set, you go there wanting something that has Dora on it. Then you walk down her aisle and figure out just what, specifically, you're going to get. Shudder.

Despite all this, we managed to find where they had a large collection of trikes and ride-on vehicles. Unfortunately, all they had were hud toys. A hud toy is a toy that is so garishly ugly, so overflowing in needless bells and whistles that its simple, original purpose is obscured (for lots of examples, just look at the vast majority of "infant activity centers"). All we wanted was a simple, normal, non-battery-requiring ride-on toy, such as this one, at our church building in Jordan.

But all they had were ride-ons plastered with Barbies or princesses or firemen (with accompanying stupid songs) or Elmo or Thomas the Train Engine, etc. etc. We tried out many of them but in the end decided that we could not, in good conscience, bring any of them into our home.

So what did we walk out of ToysRUs having purchased? A play shopping cart. But NOT the one that boasts of containing "over 20 individual play food items!!!!!!" You'd think that would be a liability in kids' toys, that they have lots of parts to scatter around the house and lose. Apparently not.

Strangers at the park

Welcome to the mall, Mom