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August 2005 | Vol. IV - No. 8




Tools:

Double the Alpha Toy, Double the Fun


How difficult is it to throw an extra tiara in a dress-up trunk, another magnifying glass in an outdoor adventure kit, or one more rolling pin with the modeling clay?
Children come in pairs. If they don’t have a sibling sharing their toy box, they have an endless schedule of play dates. In theory, play dates are great; in reality they involve sharing. Unfortunately, many toy manufacturers make the concept of sharing even more difficult for young children — a group more interested in the concept of “Mine!”

Too often, play sets are made up of several lesser toys and one toy that everyone wants; I call it the Alpha toy. My son’s kitchen set comprises dozens of fruits, vegetables, cans and boxes … but the one blue chef’s apron is the Alpha Toy. Everyone wants to be the chef.

Then there is the set of Mega-Bloks that includes one block with wheels to construct fantastic vehicles. Would you rather build a lifeless tower or a car you could roll across the floor to the accompaniment of “vroom-vroom?” Wars have been fought in my living room over that Alpha toy. Wars that usually end up with someone being conked on the head with a lifeless but very hard tower.

I realize I could simply buy a second play set and have two Alpha toys. But I never do. It’s seems wasteful to buy an entire set for just one piece. And then June Cleaver whispers to me from sitcom-world, “It’s important for them to learn to share. They can take turns.” Of course, her wise words are soon forgotten in my chaotic real world. When I need 15 minutes to finish an article, return a phone call, or cook supper I don’t want to mediate two toddlers struggling for control of the lone Alpha toy. Sometimes I don’t want to teach two little boys the importance of sharing. I just want two Alpha toys!

How difficult is it to throw an extra tiara in a dress-up trunk, another magnifying glass in an outdoor adventure kit, or one more rolling pin with the modeling clay? Playtime for young children is many things: loud, unpredictable, educational, funny. But it is very rarely solitary. When no friends are available, parents often stand in as willing playmates. And what mom wouldn’t want her own tiara to wear to the tea party? Make play equally rewarding for each child and adult by encouraging playmates to have fun together instead of competing for one special toy.




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Jodi M. WebbWriter's Bio: The mother of three children ages 13, 10 and 2, Jodi Webb started out as a toy seller. She´s happy to find a job where her accountant will let her write off her toy purchases! Read more articles by this author

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