Friday, April 20, 2007

4/20/07 A classic baby toy

Does it get any cuter than this? It's so fun to smile at my brother making funny faces behind the camera when Mom is trying to get some video of me spinning this toy.

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Katrina smiles and plays

Today I brought out one of my (!) favorite baby toys, one that you can't get anymore in an analog version. We were handed down one of these, then I found a newer generation one for $1 at a garage sale, so we had two. Both of which I gave away with all our baby stuff, because we weren't having any more babies! Then Bonne Maman found this one in Pennsylvania.

It's got lots of things to spin, press, boing, turn and move from side to side, and it's a terrific baby entertainer.

Unfortunately, the new versions of these are all battery-powered light-flashing obnoxious-electronic-noise-making irritants. Not only are they really annoying to grownups, but their top claim of being "educational" for infants is foiled by the utter predictability of the electronics. You push this button, a light flashes. You turn this knob, tones emit. You always get exactly the same response.

But with the old-fashioned mechanical one, how you handle the controls affects how it responds. You spin it a little, it turns a little. You hold the knob all the way to the side, you get a bigger boing. You push it harder, it makes a bigger squeak sound. And all the infinite variations inbetween. Not just ON-OFF poles, but the entire scale inbetween. Even though we live in digital Silicon Valley, the truth is, most of our world is still analog. Especially a baby's world.

Not that I'm bent on toys being "educational," and I'll spare you that rant for now -- but the mechanical analog toys are far far more fun. And yes, representative of the real world. Which, mercifully, doesn't always tone and flash back at you.

This same toy was Gabriel's longtime favorite, since it had so much stuff to spin. It's sort of poignant now to see him showing it to his little sister. (And, slightly annoying that he keeps taking over!)

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Gabriel shows Katrina how to spin

Gabriel is allowed to make tunnels over Katrina -- instead of jump over her! (Hmm, am I a hypocrite, or have I gained some Mom paranoia? I let him jump over Julian as a baby! 'Course the delta in size, weight and speed between Gabriel and Julian when Julian was a baby is a far cry from Gabriel and Katrina now. Still, am I being sexist here?)

O Brother, Where Art Thou? Please don't drop that on my head!

Of course, the strap is often the most interesting -- and tasty -- part.


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