Non-Marking: No Fun

When we were in Napa in the fall, we went to a great little toy store downtown to see if we could find something for Tony and Maria's son P and John and Kathy's son S. I asked about Huggy Buggies, the squishy little cars that Craig and Nico introduced us to long before we had a kid, that we'd bought for the Beaner's cousin when he was little, and which the Beaner now owns thanks to hand-me-downs. I love them because they're squishy—if he throws them or hits me with them accidentally, neither I nor the car gets hurt—and because they go really fast when pushed.

We were told at the store that they no longer carried Huggy Buggies; instead they offered Chubbies, which the salewoman touted as having non-marking wheels. I see now on Amazon that parents and kids everywhere absolutely love them, and my point here is not to criticize these cars, which are probably great. They just weren't quite what we were looking for. When I showed them to Al and said, "this is what they have instead of Huggy Buggies. They're non-toxic, non-marking, and dishwasher-safe!", he replied, "sounds like they're more for parents than kids."

And that's what I want to talk about now. While the Viking cars may indeed be the best toy ever for parents *and* kids, I'm a little dubious in general of toys that seem to be made more for parents than kids. Case in point: Crayola's Color Wonder markers and paper. The Beaner got a couple sets of these for Christmas, and we just tried coloring with them now. I do realize that it's possible that he had much more fun with them than I did (in which case I'd be proving the opposite of what I intended); it's possible that he *liked* coloring for a few seconds and then waiting a few seconds more to see what and where he colored. My impression, however, was that he got bored before the ink could dry and reveal itself.

Even if he wasn't bored, however, it seemed to me that the delayed gratification involved in waiting for the invisible, "won't draw on anything except the special Color Wonder paper!" ink just encouraged him to scribble rather than draw. He attacked the paper as if trying to get an out-of-ink ballpoint pen to write. I admit that I did, too, when my initial attempts to color within the lines were foiled by my inability to see where I'd just colored.

In other words, while I am in favor of delayed gratification in general, in this case the lack of immediate feedback was just plain frustrating. When I paint or draw or even color with crayons, it's a very Zen activity for me—and I've seen that same look of relaxed concentration on The Beaner's face when he's drawing or painting. I didn't see it with the colorless markers. He scribbled for a few seconds, gave me a look that said, "what's the point?", and spent the rest of the time playing with the caps on the markers instead. I think from now on, we'll stick to crayons and colored pencils and paint—the threat of marked-up walls be damned.

Posted by Lori in parenthood at 8:26 AM on January 6, 2007

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