Pre-kids, the dud gift would inevitably land squarely on either my husband or myself. Maybe it was a pilot project resulting from your great aunt’s knitting efforts – the classic, itchy reindeer sweater. Or perhaps it’s a carefully-wrapped fruitcake from mom, shipped clear across the country at a premium rate despite the fact that you’ve told her – every single year since birth – just how much you hate it.
Since adding kids to our family equation, however, the stakes have been raised in terms of dud gifts. The itchy sweater can be tossed into the back of the closet without a second thought and the fruitcake can always double as a door-stop, but a dud toy can have wide-reaching, negative ramifications.
A bad toy could mean hours of assembly – supervised by you the parent, of course – which may or may not result in the toy pictured on the box. Or it could be something that’s just annoying – pure and simple – but yet you’re stuck with listening to it from Christmas morning until an undetermined date in the future. Last year, my husband blogged for Today’s Parent about the Furby frenzy our two girls went through – desperately begging for the incessantly-noisy, over-priced little monsters until we finally caved – only to have the kids toss them aside a couple of short weeks later.
This Christmas, however, I’ve have to say that the dud toy was a robotic dinosaur we gave to our daughter, Lily. The dud factor on this item was actually two-fold. First and foremost, this was a build-it-yourself toy (as depicted by the large “U-Build” icon on the upper, left-hand corner of the box). Back in November – when Christmas was a glimmering light on the horizon, and I was perusing the toys at Canadian Tire with endless energy and wide-eyed wonder – the DIY factor didn’t phase me. Sure, it said “8+” but my six-year-old is smart. It can’t be that hard…right?
It really wasn’t that hard, but now let’s factor in the timing of gifting said present. Since we spent Christmas in Toronto with family, Santa actually came while we were away and left one last, special gift for each of our daughters to open upon their return (the rest of their gifts were opened before we left). It was brilliant planning on my part – with the exception of the fact that the toy for Lily required extensive assembly – something that was not overly appealing on the heels of a four-and-a-half-hour car ride home.
Yet there I was…with my teeny, tiny screwdriver…trying to decipher which screws to use where according to the tiny diagram. Lily – diligently standing by and helping wherever she could – could hardly wait for her ferocious-looking T-rex to start roaring and roaming the halls. Of course, I managed to assemble the entire thing only to realize that the input plug for the wire and remote was not properly situated…requiring a disassembly and subsequent reassembly in order for it to work.
A full 90 minutes later (hey, let’s remember that I did choose journalism over engineering!), bleary-eyed and irritated, I finished assembling the dinosaur correctly. Now for the moment of truth; time to press the buttons to hear him roar and make him move. Well, here is the second element of dud-ism; the terrifying creature makes but a small sound. And when it comes to movement, let’s just say that a glacier must have run dinosaurs to extinction with the pace that this guy can walk.
Nevertheless, Lily was thrilled. As she played with her new toy – wearing her favourite green dinosaur t-shirt, of course – her smile melted away my irritation at the whole assembly process. If she doesn’t mind waiting for 20 minutes for T-rex to walk across the coffee table, then I suppose neither do I.