Day Fifteen: Elefun Busy Ball Popper – Tuesday 7 July 2015

Today saw our first trip to Toys ‘R’ Us. This is a dangerous place and not one I ever want to visit with a child that can speak.

The morning was peaceful enough, Milo desperately practising his new trick of standing on one leg. He clings onto whatever happens to be in front of him, leans at a jaunty angle and then lifts the non-fulcrum leg off the ground, kicking and shaking it about as if he is drying his gumboot. Thus far his balance has been excellent. He is also just starting to ‘cruise’ as Gymbaroo would put it (shimmying sideways while holding onto something). This spells big trouble for the cats, and the Sonos speakers.

Learning from our desperate exile last week we loaded into the car as soon as the cleaner arrived. This week I refused to leave my child at the mercy of the wolves, or the high viz posties, and instead decided on a trip to Toys ‘R’ Us in search of more ‘stimulating’ toys after Milo’s eyes were opened on the weekend.

Well, this was hard. Much harder than I thought it would be; and I thought it would be hard. To start with, why are the lights so bright and cold in there? It is as if that giraffe guy wants to be able to conduct surgery at a moment’s notice if necessary. I also feel the frequency of the fluorescent bulbs is a little low, such that there is a nearly perceptible flicker at all times. Just enough to give you a slight tick in the corner of your left eye, but not enough to satisfy yourself that the bulbs are the reason. We were left with a general feeling of unease as soon as we entered.

Being the amateur parent I am I was surprised to learn it is school holidays currently, so 1130 on a Tuesday at Toys R Us was not as quiet as I had hoped. In fact quite the opposite; petting zoo at the front entrance, soft serve ice-cream everywhere and children hepped up on helium and Pokeman dashing about. Wise parents nowhere to be seen.

It is not immediately obvious where one is supposed to go either. Adjacent aisles swing madly from bug catchers to robo-velociraptors. There does not appear to be any age consideration to the groupings, rather the aisles seem to be organised by shades of pink or levels of violence; from ‘simulated’ through to ‘actual’. So we browsed for a while, Milo looking somewhere between disinterested and indignant. Tom Hanks at FAO Schwarz in the movie BIG it was not.

Eventually we found a section that seemed suitable, variations on a single theme; ‘activity centre’ with large buttons that cause vibrations and usually a vastly unnecessary racket. After pushing several of the ‘try me’ buttons and immediately concluding that I did not want to bring such a grating disquiet into our lives we moved on. It is genuinely difficult to avoid ‘gender stereotypes’ in your toy purchasing; there isn’t a huge amount between the pink and the violence except for tractors and other earth-moving equipment, although I was tempted to purchase an enormous model of the Millennium Falcon but thought perhaps my 8 month old son may not be adequately nurtured by such a toy.

Finally we settled upon the ‘Elefun Busy Ball Popper’ which is reportedly good for Milo’s coordination and understanding of ‘permanence’ (how a blue plastic elephant firing coloured balls out of his trunk can do that I am not sure) as well as a combine harvester, my compromised attempt to purchase him a vehicle without surrendering entirely to the gender stereotype; concepts of farming and food production can only be positive I am sure, and transcend gender boundaries.

We then dashed home for lunch (broccoli, capsicum, ham, cheese, bread, egg – essentially an exploded sandwich) and then it was time to unveil the new toys! The combine harvester was straight forward enough, it really doesn’t do anything. Milo tried hard to chew on its tyres and then eventually found a little red button that I had overlooked in the store; needless to say it made a horrific and not at all necessary engine sound. Other than that there’s not much more to say about the combine harvester. Milo quickly moved on to the red tennis ball, which is his favourite.

Of course we did not have the correct batteries for the cleverly named ‘Elefun’ so after a dash to the shop downstairs we were ready. The thing basically uses a jet of air to jettison small plastic balls out of its trunk, which must then be retrieved and inserted into its ear so they can be flung out again. Of course this is accompanied by a cacophony of elephant noises, carnival tunes and children singing; as if they could not decide which sound would be the most enticing and so decided upon all of them.

Milo looked quizzically at the Elefun, Huckleberry looked at it with suspicion. After a few goes of me pressing the big red button to commence the action Milo crawled away to retrieve and ultimately chew on one of the escaped plastic balls. Huckleberry stood watch to ensure the little blue beast was not here to stake a territory claim. Perhaps in days and months to come the Elefun will be a hit, but not today. The rest of the day was primarily spent playing with my shoes.

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Elefun is Ele-lame

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Dad’s shoes are great

After a nice afternoon nap mum was home, dashing in out of the rain. Milo then delightedly clung to her like a limpet until dinner, bath and bed.

  • Apparent number of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle reincarnations – 7
  • Number of Pokemon I know – 2 (Pikachu and Lickitung)
  • Price per minute of toy utilisation today – $17.50
  • Minutes of Le Tour Stage 3 (replay) watched – 45
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