Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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Toys to Avoid

You may or may not still have some holiday shopping left to do, even though Christmas is only about four minutes away and just thinking about it makes me break out in a cold sweat.  I'm not laying blame, here - it's tough to find time to shop, let alone think of something to buy in the first place.  Adults are notoriously difficult to find gifts for, especially now that we're a little too old to get away with wrapping an ornament made out of Popsicle sticks in some old newspaper and expecting the grown-ups in our lives to fall over backwards with excitement.  Often we either have NO idea what to get for someone, or we know what they want but don't have enough time to run out and make 50 new friends who'd be willing to contribute $20 apiece for it.

And adults aren't the only ones.  I always thought kids were so easy to buy for - just waltz into the toy store and pick up the first thing you see, right?  Kids love everything!  But at some point they make the change, and apparently that age is 9 1/2, because this is the first year that I'm pretty clueless about what to get for Jake.  He has officially made the transition from "I'm a Little Boy and I Want Everything in the Toy Aisle" to "I'm a Little Man and I Can't Think of a Single Thing I Want Unless It's Technology-Based and Costs at Least $600."

So I'm not going to be much help telling you what to get for the kids in your lives, but I can  offer a few suggestions of what not  to get, in hopes you can avoid an ugly scene on Christmas morning.

First on the list of what not to get is a giant, personalized soccer ball.  Assuming you don't already have one.

Issue #1 is that it's $110.00; I'm not sure how much of that cost goes into the personalization, but I'm thinking that the odds of your kid getting their enormous, 40" diameter soccer ball mixed up with another kid's are fairly low, so maybe you could skip having his name emblazoned on the side.  Issue #2 is (I'll go ahead and mention the elephant in the room, so to speak) the ridiculous size.  If you're buying this for someone else's kid, you'd better make sure that they either live on a 200-acre farm or that you don't want to be friends with the parents anymore, because if they have to store this  thing (instead of their car) in the garage and then deal with it bopping around in their average-sized suburban backyard with only 2" available for maneuvering on each side between the ball and the fence while it kills their grass, it's pretty much guaranteed that they aren't going to be speaking to you ever again.  I do, however, admire the moxie of this company, which optimistically asks for the quantity you'd like to order on their website, as if you might like to buy them in bulk.

Next on the list is this:

What's wrong with this, you might ask?  I'll tell you what.  These are Baby Nunchucks, for the "baby Ninja in training," per the sales pitch.  This, by the way, has removed any remaining doubt that you can now find anything  on Etsy (yes, they're homemade nunchucks).  I know what you're thinking, and I thought the idea of a baby with nunchucks was adorable at first too, but then I remembered the following immutable law of the universe: small things that are unnaturally dexterous are creepy.  Remember Chucky, the murderous doll from the movie Child's Play?  Need I mention Benjamin Button?  Gollum from Lord of the RingsMarionettes of any kind?  Teddy Ruxpin?  The last thing I need to do is foster a fear that Maddie will get up in the middle of the night and start training herself to karate chop me in the throat.

Next up, this:

Don't get me wrong, I think blocks are a fabulous, classic toy.  I just feel like this particular set of blocks might damage a child's self-esteem.  Either that, or somebody in their marketing department was looking to get fired.

And finally, the Punch'n'Cuddle.  Yes, that's what it's called.

As the name implies, kids are supposed to punch this toy.  A lot.  And also cuddle it.  To understand why I don't want this toy in my house, you have to understand how my energy is expended on most days.

So you can see, this toy totally undermines the only parenting I ever really do.  I can't afford to have my authority eroded any further than it already is; if I start letting them rough-house, it'll be total anarchy around here.  Besides, I think it might send the wrong message to children to encourage them to violently take out their frustrations on the same thing they're supposed to cuddle.  No one wants their kid to grow up to inspire an after school special.

Well, best of luck with your holiday shopping - I hope this post narrows down the options for you.  Don't worry, soon all the shopping and wrapping will be complete, and you can start guzzling egg nog.  Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go get started on Gerry's gift - a 50" flat screen TV, made out of elbow macaroni and construction paper.  If there's time, maybe some glitter.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!


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