One of the best things about becoming a parent is the promise of being able to enjoy toys and games that I’ve all but forgotten.
I became a parent about four months ago and while it’s incredible watching an infant do things, the things they do is pretty basic. Only recently has my daughter started to become more aware of things…like books, toys, our pets and even her feet. Watching her actions truly is amazing and they remind of all the great things I’ll be able to share with her. The real question then is, what to share and when to share it?
As a big geek it can be overwhelming thinking about all the things you want to show your child as they grow up. Movies, books, cartoons, games, toys…I can’t wait to guide my child down the path of geekdom but it’s all about timing and order. How young is too young for video games, and which ones? Should she watch Star Wars in release order or story order? Lincoln Logs first or LEGO bricks? So to help myself think this all through, here’s a Top 5 list of toys and games I can’t wait to share with my child.
I started playing video games at a young age and started with the first Nintendo, so by all rights my first video game was Super Mario Bros. My parents weren’t really into games so only later in life did I discover the glory that is classic arcade games like Pac-Man, Galaga, Donkey Kong and all the rest. I’m hoping to correct this path with my kid, directing her towards the basics before she dives into modern titles. I’m looking forward to Pac-Man specifically because it is just a great game that is also gender and theme-neutral. It doesn’t assume anything and just makes you play and learn fast. It also lays a foundation for what I feel is a great trait, self improvement. Sure, you can compare your scores against other people but in order to get better you just have to keep pushing yourself to play more and more, in turn learning more and more. The only person you can really rely in life is yourself and I’m sure that’s just how poor little Pac-Man feels.
There are a lot of board games and card games to choose from but none of them excited me more as a child than Monopoly. Maybe it was the idea of making money or maybe it was the fun of rolling a pair of dice that made Monopoly so much fun, but what made the game really special was that it brought my family together. Mom, dad, grandparents…we would all play together and I thought that was the best thing ever. I know now that playing Monopoly everyday like I wanted to when I was a kid isn’t possible, but I can’t wait to show her the ropes…and yes, we’ll play with the Free Parking jackpot.
The Frisbee in one of the greatest toys of the 20th century. It’s right up there with the Big Wheel and the Etch-A-Sketch if you ask me. Throwing a disc hundreds of yards only to see someone snatch it out of the air is a wonderful thing…and vice versa. It’s a great outdoor activity that requires skill, timing and just looks downright impressive when it’s done right. Not to mention my wife has trouble throwing a Frisbee so I’m looking forward to having someone new to play with.
Runner-up: Chalk drawings
Yes, despite my stereotypical boy toy upbringing, I look forward to diving into the world of Barbie (or whatever doll she’s into). Barbie is more or less uncharted waters for me and that’s why it fascinates me so. I had GI Joe figures so I know how the imaginary with dolls goes but the “world” Joes live in is (or can be) quite a bit different than Barbie. But what I think will be the most fun is supporting my daughter’s Barbie world. I might not know jack about which pair of shoes looks good or why Malibu Barbie is better than Rocker Barbie, but what I can do is build. Using my (albeit limited) handy skills to create houses, apartments and other environments for my daughter play in sounds like the best thing in the world. I see it as giving her a custom palette to create her world…and it might save me a few bucks along the way.
Runner-up: Bikes and Big Wheels
I think I’ll be hard pressed to find a better toy to share with my child than LEGO bricks. LEGO was a huge part of my childhood and is one of the most versatile toys available. It fosters creativity, problem solving and story telling. It might be the only toy that hits every skill I feel every person needs and that I want to instill in my child. Today they have a LEGO style for everything including the awesome Mindstorms that you can program with your computer. I’m not sure what themes my daughter will get into but there will most certainly be a LEGO set for it. But what’s cooler is that I still have a good chunk of my LEGO bricks so she’ll get quite a few hand-me-down LEGO sets that will hopefully make all her creations extra special.
To say this list wasn’t easy would be an understatement. Fact is there are hundreds of things I can’t wait to share and see my child do…and there are hundreds more I can’t expect but that will equally blow my mind.