With all these recent recalls many of us have been wondering, who can you trust? I’ve asked it here and so have others. But now I’m wondering if we’re asking ourselves the wrong question. Maybe we need to be wondering, “Do I really need to be buying all this crap?”
I started thinking about this after I saw the recall of Easy Bake Ovens yesterday. I remember this toy from when I was kid. I wanted one. Badly. But there was no way my mother would have bought me such an elaborate gift. It wasn’t her style. And she didn’t encourage our grandparents to lavish us with expensive toys either. I’m not saying that I was deprived. I wasn’t. It was just a matter of principle. It didn’t feel right to her to give us expensive things to play with.
When I look back on it, I remember messing around with art supplies and playing lots of ball with my brother. I did have a Snoopy doll that I dressed up in clothes. And we had board games and blocks. I remember coveting that Easy Bake Oven though. I think because I didn’t get it, the unmet desire left a more lasting impression than if I had gotten the thing and realized the little cakes you can make in it aren’t as good as the Chips Ahoy cookies in the kitchen.
These days my son is very into the idea of having a pirate ship. A good friend of his has a very cool one made of wood and my son loves to go to his house to play with it. I am reluctant to get him one though because I think it is good to have some things out there in the world that you don’t get to own. Grownups have to contend with this in daily life. Maybe it will translate into a lesson about not getting into credit card debt trying to buy things you can’t afford.
But pirate ships aside, there is plenty we do buy for our son. He’s got lots of toys, way more than I remember having as a kid. A hyper consumer culture and the availability of lots of affordable toys have helped to create this situation. And yet we know that many of these products are made in China where, we’re learning more and more, there are serious concerns about quality control.
Maybe it’s time to realize there’s no free lunch. If we willingly fill our homes with stuff made under dubious circumstances, maybe it should come as no surprise that there’s a price to pay in quality and safety. Maybe we don’t need ubiquitous Thomas the Train and weird Veggie Booty and too-pink Easy Bake Ovens. Maybe all our kids really need is some balls to kick around, some clay and finger paint, and a doll or two.
Wow I’m high up here on this horse. No need to shoot, I’ll come down now.