I had a Mom come in with a very little boy today and, after letting him tool around the store for awhile, she bought him a Transformers toy. He implored her and swore he'd been looking for this toy 'forever' and the Mom capitulated and a purchase was made.
I should have been warned when I noticed that she didn't really look at what this little boy had been picked up and declared the object of his affection. Sure, he told her he'd been looking for it forever, but he didn't really look much at the toy either. This isn't not a big deal; a lot of little kids get excited at the idea of getting a toy on a trip to the comic shop and, at the prospect of leaving empty handed, quickly beg their parents for something they grabbed randomly. Leaving with a toy that might be cool once you take it home is way better than going home without anything.
I'm not saying this is a great way to parent, I'm just saying it happens.
So not 15 minutes later does the Mom return, bored little boy in tow, and declare she has no idea how to put this toy together. Dude, it's a Transformer and I have all the sympathy in the world for a parent who can't figure these tricky buggers out. To this day as an adult I have a hard time with turning a car to a robot and back again without some serious sit-down time and the instructions. This sympathy engaged, I come over to help her try and work this one out. The little boy has already left his mother's side to go play with the other toys in store.
The Transformer is in two parts. I wince and carefully inspect the Bumblebee for any sign that it broke or came apart on them. I stare at limbs and bumpers and compare them to the diagram that came with the action figure. The Mom is totally uninterested. This is too complicated for her and for her son and she tells me that this is not the first time this has happened. "He'll want some toy, I'll buy it and it'll be will too difficult and then we'll just throw it away," she laments.
I grit my teeth a little harder. Okay, it's one thing to buy a Transformer and not know how to put the thing together, its another to be lazy. It's another to constantly buy your child things that he has only a superficial interest in and then foster this behavior on multiple purchases.
Today I had two parents turn down comics for their kids because they were 'too hard' for their children. Metro has a special section for Marvel Adventures, Tintin, Tiny Titans, Bone and their ilk so that parents don't panic when they see Punisher comics for sale. With just a question, anyone in the store is ready with suggestions for younger readers. But Batman: Brave and the Bold was put back. Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man was put back. If the child you're buying for is not at reading level yet, why not read the book to your kids and get them into reading from being interested and active in your kid's life?
I was reading when I was very young because my brother read me the novelization of the E.T. movie. My mom read me the Scrawny Tawny Lion. I listed to the Dark Crystal on Book-and-Tape. I had Transformers that wee complicated and my uncle showed me how to follow instructions so we could transform them together.
It's not the toy that's too hard. It's not the comics that are too advanced for your kids. It's YOU. Parenting is hard. For me, for them, for the love of God, please try harder.