Saturday, October 18, 2008
Why American Kids Have Farther to Go
Behold the blocks of death! Yesterday at the Golden Apple, I helped a young couple find early learning toys for their two year old. One item the couple wanted was a set of good old-fashioned blocks. Unit blocks they are called, and have been a preschool staple forever. I always push unit blocks at parents, as they are the simplest, most primary toy that every child should have. They ought to be standard-issue to all babies - forget about the trendy Mozart CDs. So I led them over to where we have a lovely 60 piece Melissa and Doug set (pictured), in its beautiful wooden case. The mom pointed out to me that the package says 3+. I looked and sure enough, Ages 3+. "Ignore that" I said. They looked at me like I was selling broken glass. "These are Unit Blocks, they are a standard size, there is nothing in this box that could possibly harm any child". They started backing away. I was appalled myself. Why would someone put a warning sticker on unpainted blocks of wood? Children all over America are being kept away from the most basic learning toy available, worth more than all the infant flashcards and Baby Einstein dvds ever produced, because some risk-o-phobic team of lawyers decided it was safer for them to bump the age. We are doomed.