Tag Archives: licensed merchandise for kids

Do Toddlers need to exchange Valentines Cards?

stars, hearts and crumbs - valentine's art project

(Photo by woodlywonderworks via Flickr Creative Commons License)

Yesterday was all lovely dove-y… today I have a bit of a rant.

In short, in my opinion, no. Toddlers don’t need to exchange valentines day cards.

Yesterday, I went to pick up my not yet two year old from the Day-home. Now, the absolutely wonderful women who takes care of Audrey obviously really likes holidays. Or maybe she just likes the reason to make a couple days a year extra exciting for the kids. Or she has an intense love of crafts. Regardless, every holiday we get a homemade, toddler decorated card. Which is quite cute.

But along with our card this time was a little envelope of valentines day cards from some of the other kids. Now obviously I am not the only ‘bad’ Mom who didn’t even think of this.. there were only a couple cards. BUT. I thought we were still a good couple years away from Valentines Day cards.

But it brought to the forefront for me my feelings about Valentines Day and kids. Mainly that I think, at the very most it is totally unnecessary and at the very least it should be 90% kid led.

Valentines day is a hallmark holiday if I have ever seen one. My husband and I do use it as a good excuse to be extra nice to each other and plan a special day. Cause you can never get enough special days and extra excuses to be good to each other. Because when you’ve been together for almost 8 years and you have a toddler, you need all the excuses you can get.

But for kids? Especially toddlers who very likely didn’t say “Mother, I would like to hand out cards to every one of my friends. Could we please buy that package of Princess cards?” Here are my “con” arguments.

1) It is a waste of paper.

Now this might be a horrible thing to say. I am all for sharing loving sentiments with others and I love beautifully hand made cards. But when we are talking Valentines cards given by ‘toddlers’, we are talking those crappy perforated cards where the parent just fills in the “to” and “from”. It really seems like a waste of paper. We aren’t suppose to keep those are we? Cause ours went in the recycling bin.

2) It isn’t kid led.

We have had a fairly consistent view of holidays- they can be fun… but they should also be, at least in part, kid led. Same reason why Audrey hasn’t been to see Santa. Did she want to see Santa? Did she ask to give out Valentines day cards? At not even two years old, we wouldn’t be giving out Valentines cards for her, or even for her friends. We would be doing it for us or to show that we knew what one is ‘suppose’ to do as a parent. You know, I just wonder, who are we really doing this for? Correct me if I am wrong here.

It’s different with an older kid who ‘gets’ is and actually asks to participate actively in a holiday.

3) Commercialism

Just like everything else in the world of toddlers, every Valentines Day Card out there is Licensed Merchandise. Dora, Princess, Thomas, ect. ect. ect. It’s like an other big excuse to market to our kids and get them more deeply involved with the various characters they all become attached to. And you all know how I feel about that.

4) Obligatory ‘give one to everyone so no one is left out’ stuff

It’s not that I think it is great when some kid gets their feeling hurt because they were the only one in the class who didn’t get a card. I just think it is a rather pointless exercise for eveyone’s parents to buy every other parents kid in their kids class a valentines card (and often candy) on behalf of their child and exchange them. Why don’t we all just buy our own kids 25 cards and a bag of candy and be done with it? Because I know my kid needs candy and pictures of t.v. characters.

So, I am not doing Valentines cards. Until Audrey asks to and can write them and hand them out herself. Even better if she makes them, rather then pulling apart, along perforated edges, some Dora themed cards that come in packs of 20. And if she only wants to give them to 3 kids or all 40 she knows.. whatever. That is up to her.

Maybe my views on this will soften… they often do when faced with reality and peer pressure and you know, life. But right now, at first blush…. I am not a fan of this kids Valentines card thing.

In general, I don’t like ‘should’. I do believe in being kind and considerate and cognoscente of the impact of ones behaviours and choices on others.. but I think the world operates too much on us doing what we ‘should’ do, rather then being authentic and honest and doing what we want to do. I don’t like all the conventions.

Now, before you all roast me on a spit, I don’t think ill of anyone who does ‘do’ the valentines thing. I know it is done with the best intention. Sometimes we need an opportunity to remind each other that we mean something to each other. The parents who do send their kids with cards and candy or whatever, I assume do so because the kids probably like it and everyone is happy and why the heck not?

I am just a big cynic, that’s all.

Am I being a no fun, ridiculous, bah humbug? Do you think Toddlers should exchange Valentines Cards?

ControverSunday: Licensed Merchandise

So it is ControverSunday time! And Whoohoo I am hosting. So, here is what is going to happen. Once you write your own ControverSunday post (and I know you are all working on it right now), then head over to Accidents to get your official “ControverSunday” badge. Put it in your post. Then, go visit Perpetua– our regular ControverSunday host. Who has added all your awesome topic suggestions to the official ControverSunday page. The plan going forward is that we are going to tackle these topics every two weeks. Say hello. Say Thanks! Then, come back here and put a link in the comments to your post. Then I will update this post with your links (I am at my parents place on holidays right now, so it may not happen speedy speedy.)

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ControverSunday: Licensed Merchandise

The Arbolog

Our Lady of Perpetual Bread Crumbs

Partial Disclosures

So on Friday we went on a pre-trip quest to find a shiny new toy for our flight to Victoria. I was flying with Audrey sans husband and was stock piling all forms of travel appropriate distraction.

We went to the store which strikes fear into the heart of this slow food tending , free range-ish , simple is better, trying to buy less ‘stuff’, wannabe environmentalist. You know, the store that starts with a wall and ends with a mart. Well I can readily admit to being a full Superstore convert, despite it’s big box ways, I just can’t get on the bandwagon with that store. Nor its Canadian counterpart (the one that starts will a Z). This doesn’t mean I never go there, but it does mean I regret it when I do. I always leave frustrated and with a headache.

Anyway, we went there because my husband had the car and it was the only thing in walking distance.

For someone who is used to a) not buying a ton of toys and b) doing a lot of our shopping at used stores, I am still no stranger to licensed merchandise. Although, when buying used you end up seeing more old school licensed merchandise, and it seems rather different. I don’t know, I notice less that it is branded merchandise when it is an old school Micky mouse or Winnie the poo toy rather then a Dora or Thomas one. Maybe because I remember the Micky and Winnie from when I was a kid and so the vintage aspect of it makes it seem less materialistic.

BUT. But. WOW was that store full of branded crap. I wanted to find a simple, small etch-a-sketch and my only options were a Toy Story one. Um no. She hasn’t even seen Toy story. I wanted simple. But all I could find was branded.

You probably guessed- I am not a big fan of the licensed merchandise. Yes, I would go out of my way to buy a non-branded bowl, hat, pair of shoes or etch-a-sketch. Why? Because.

Actually, that is a good question. Licensed merchandise kinda offends my sensibilities, but I don’t quite know why. Maybe I just feel that way because that’s the way a greenish, slowish parent is suppose to think. That being said, I am not a big fan of just going along with what I am suppose to think or do based on some oversimplified categorization of my parenting style. I mean, I don’t like tv much for kids (but will resort to it on a plane to save my sanity), but there are pretty clear studies re: the not so good effect of tv on the under two crowd. I have good reasons to back up my choice. Can the same really be said for licensed merchandise?

What is the harm?

Let’s discuss this brainstorm list I came up with to try and explore just why I feel this way.

Imagination: I wonder what Licensed Merchandise does for kids imagination. I mean, think about it, if I hand my kid a plain bowl it can be anything she want’s it to be; boat on the high sea, hat, flower pot, ect. ect. If my kid has a bowl which shows a scene of a particular familiar character and a familiar story line- then is that bowl always just that story in my kids head? It seems to me it would be harder for imagination to take hold if it is being constricted by connecting a particular story with an item. So many things about child hood are diminishing their ability to imagine. Too much video games and TV come to mind. I want my kid to have a wide imagination. How else is she going to solve the worlds problems? (I am NOT saying that if your kid is surrounded by licensed merchandise that they can’t save the world- come on, you know I am in the camp of there being more then one good way to parent.)

Marketing to kids: Wow, did the advertiser that first came up with licensed merchandise have a brilliant idea. It is the ideal way to market to kids because they get it. Like right away. It works. There are a lot of documentaries out there right now about the negatives of marketing to kids. I have seen bits of a few and yeah, I get it. I do think it benefits kids, especially really young ones, to not be bombarded with brand messages before they are old enough to recognize them as brand messages. They don’t evaluate them the way we do. To them it is truth. It makes me uncomfortable.

Temptation for stuff: You see, you may know you don’t need an other toy or bowl or book or pair of shoes or sunglasses or ball or whatever. But if you see something that is licensed and ‘matches’ with something else that matches, there is a temptation to ‘complete the set.’ And, once the kid is old enough to ask, they want to ‘complete the set’ too. We all end up buying too much stuff for kids (as I learned when the shiny new toys we ended up buying at the store on Friday were rejected for a coffee cup sleeve on the plane. HA!). But I suspect when we buy licensed merchandise that is even more the case.

Role models: There are some (some) kids characters out there that are good. Audrey doesn’t watch TV yet, so I don’t know much about them (so you can correct me if I am wrong), but it seems, for example, that Dora the Explorer is pretty good in principle. I mean, she explores. Doesn’t sound like the type of character to call a boy over if she sees a bug or something. So, probably a pretty good role model and a decent show. BUT. Do I want a Dora everything? If I had a Dora everything would Audrey be more of an explorer? Probably not. Just because the character is a good one, doesn’t mean there is any benefit to buying into all the merchandise around it.

BUT. Here is my but. I can see, in the future, a day that this tendency to stray away from licensed merchandise will fade. Why? Because Audrey can’t ask for it yet. Or if she is asking, she is doing so inarticulately. However, I can anticipate a time where maybe a Dora toothbrush might be enough to convince her to brush her teeth. Or a Dora bed might convince her to stay in bed. Or whatever. All I am saying is, I don’t judge and whatever works. I don’t think having or not having licensed merchandise is the be all and end all of good or bad parenting. Just like any other of our ControverSunday topics. To each their own.

ControverSunday Topic: Licensed Merchandise for Kids

Hello! Welcome!

So two weeks ago we brought back ControverSunday. Yeah! And some great things happened! We got a newbie to join (@torturedpotato) and a couple more to suggest some topics (@breebop and @jenarbo). Yeah! And then I was going to pick a topic from the suggestions but I dropped the ball.

But here I am to pick it right up again and host this weeks ControverSunday. Not only do we have a great topic this week, but we have a couple great ones in the bank for the next couple weeks. BUT! We need more great ideas- so if you have one, please leave a comment so that our regular host Perpetua, can put it on her list.

Now- for this weeks topic! Licensed Kids Merchandise, as suggested by @jenarbo, who has already tipped her hat that she is not a big fan. What are we talking about? You know… all the ‘stuff’ from shoes to plates to hats to toys to stickers to videos to beds to ….. (you get the idea) that are covered with some kids cartoons or personalities. Just about every kids show or movie turns out merchandise like crazy and kids gobble it up whole. What up? What do you think? Is this cool? Is this the over-commercialization of our kids at a very early age? Are you all whatev’s? Why are kids so drawn to the stuff? I mean I like the show ‘Parenthood’ but I wouldn’t want a ‘Parenthood’ branded t-shirt or iphone cover or something.

So, here’s how it works. You write a post on said topic for Sunday (or Monday or Tuesday or whatever, we are pretty open). Then you go visit Accidents to get the official “ControverSunday” badge and you add that to your post. Then you come back here to my ControverSunday post and add a link to your post in the comments so I can link you up! Then you go and read and share your thoughts on everyone else’s post. Make sure you visit Perpetua, who is our regular host who runs this fun weekly event to tell her she is fab! Everyone is welcome to participate and we LOVE newbies!

Also, so we don’t lose them, here are the other suggested topics I have heard on twitter for future weeks. Please add your suggestions in the comments!

@breebop suggested “judgement of mommy vices: booze, caffeine, cigarettes, pot cookies… every mum has one”

@10thtoTheFraser suggested “how about something on whether good parents can have bad kids? Is badness innate? Are there bad kid or just maladapted?”

@torturedpotato suggested “birth control? managing your period with drugs? medication vs holistic remedies for children?”

Keep them coming people!!!

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