So, okay, be honest... when you were little you imagined that one day you would grow up and no one would be always telling you what not to do. You would go to an amusement park all day, you would stay in the pool an extra hour, you would stay at the ball game until the end of the 9th, rather than leaving in the 8th to avoid the crowds. Some day, you would have a big slot car set and a train that ran from room to room, a remote powered boat for the pond, and maybe even a personal helicopter. And then adulthood crept in and for most of us found new people to "suggest" to us that we didn't really want these things anymore.
But now we have kids! And isn't that one of the reasons, we had them - so we could get back to all those things we've been putting off for all these years? I'm not talking about some sad "glory days" kind of living through them, but refinding the joy of life a kid has. For most of us, there is no fear that we're going to revert back to some Peter Pan state of denial of adulthood, we mostly just want to re-experience the joy of some of those things we haven't done or thought of in twenty years.
So, here's a list of toddler toys, all of which are within your adult grasp:
1. Pinball machine - They aren't as expensive as you might think (some are around $1000) and if in good shape, are virtually indestructible and the solid state ones are even easily repairable. For that reason and as a pinball purist, I recommend machines from the '70s and not the later digital varieties. Multiple player games are better for families and kids. If you live in Northern California, my favorite place is Pinball Revival. Ron and Jim are great guys, the prices are reasonable, and they have a no-questions, 60 day in-home guarantee that renews with each visit. I kept the quarter slot operational so I have some control over how much the machine gets played. All the kids love it and I also get a chance to play from time to time.
2. Slot car set - it's amazing how even a small set like the battery operated one I bought my three year-old daughter, can get the juices going. Rev up your engines and let it rip, just be careful around those turns.
3. Remote controlled balloon - this is an amazing thing. If you have 9 foot or higher ceiling, you can pilot your balloon all around the house. And, because it's a balloon and not a plane, the chances of blinding your pet dog or tipping over a priceless vase are zero. Now you'll just need to paint Goodyear on the side and you're in business.
4. Trains - Train dreams can come true. If you dreamt of one day having a room or house where trains run freely through the walls and bookcases, you now can live out the fantasy. All it takes is money, space, and the wife that almost none of us have. However, there are smaller sets of trains that are great fun. Scoff at the littlewooden trains from Brio, Imaginarium, and Thomas. While my two year-old has about a hundred word vocabulary, we've spent some good hours on the floor putting tracks together and making as long a setup as we can given his finite set of wooden pieces. The key here is to add a Thomas battery powered train. Then you can watch the train move around the track and switches you've put together. CAVEAT: there is a dissenting point of view that says you should wait until your child has a fair opportunity to enjoy pushing the trains around by himself before adding the powered element, but I'll leave that up to your best judgment. These train sets are pretty boring without power. On the other hand, my daughter thought watching a train going around on its own steam was pretty boring. When your kid leaves you alone in a room to play with their toddler toys, it's time to move on.
- Paul Banas
Founder / Editor