Saturday, March 22, 2008

Channeling The Little Boy Within: Buying Toys For a 4 Year Old: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

My girlfriend Ramona has three male cousins who live in Mammoth, ages 12, 8 and one who is about to turn 4. Whenever their birthdays or the holidays come up, I’m the one in charge of buying the gifts for them.

This was a task that evolved over time. Originally, both Ramona and I participated in the gift-getting for these young lads. But one day a few summers ago, Ramona was giving a speech in the middle of Toys R Us on the importance of providing educational toys for these boys, in order to set a positive example.

I was holding the Super Soaker 8000 at the time. Capable of shooting water at your enemies up to 50 feet.

Educational material. Super Soaker 8000. Educational material. Super Soaker 8000.

Despite my pleas, we didn’t get the Super Soaker that day. Ramona disapproved.

So the next day, I went down there by myself and bought it.

The kids loved it.

Hell, I almost bought one for myself.


Luckily, Ramona understood at that point that I could relate to boys a bit better than she, so this task became mine and mine alone in the years to come. And that’s why I was in Kaybee Toy Stores yesterday buying a gift for young Drevin, who is soon to turn 4 years old.

Now, buying a gift for a 4-year-old boy isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s a difficult age. He’s too young for major Super Soakers, too old for anything that says "Fisher Price." And what is the age range for a Nerf basketball set, anyway?

So there I was, in the little boys section of the store, wondering if little Dre would choke on of these toy trucks I was thinking of purchasing, when down the aisle walked a little boy, who looked to be around Dre’s age. At this point, I felt a great opportunity was presenting itself before me, as who better to ask what toys to get a 4-year-old boy than to ask a 4-year old boy?

"Hey kid," I said to the little tyke -- whose name, I found out later, was Juan -- waving a package of toy army trucks in his face, "would you play with this?"

He looked at me. No response.

"OK," I said. "What about these toy tractors? Would you play with these tractors?"

Juan looked at the tractors. Then looked at me. Then shuffled his shoes. No words yet.

"All right," I continued. "What about this Nerf gun? It says ages 6 and up. But would you play with this Nerf gun if it was in your possession?"

Possession. The word threw the kid. I could tell. He simply gazed at me with a blank stare. His mouth began to open and a bit of drool started forming on the right side of his face. Still no words.

Clearly, speaking to the youth generation of today was proving more difficult than anticipated. So I got down on my knees, to be eye level with young Juan, and attempted to explain my plight in words he could understand.

"You see," I told him, "I need to get a toy for a little boy who is your age. He’s going to turn 4."

And at that point, I held up four fingers. I held them up for a long time, too, to make sure the message sunk into little Juan’s head.

"And if you like the toy, then he’ll like the toys."

When I said you, I pointed at Juan. When I said he’ll, I pointed at the trucks.

"So," I concluded, "do you like any of these toys?"

And then Juan spoke.

"I’m 3," he said.

And then he walked away.

Mystifying. Truly mystifying.

One day, years from now, a woman is going to scream at Juan, "I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU!!!" I guarantee it.

So I decided to go with the toy trucks and the little Nerf gun. As the good folks at Kaybee Toys was ringing me up, I gazed over to the little boys aisle and noticed young Juan had returned there with his mother. There, pointing at the toys that I had previously displayed before him, I heard him say the following:


I then smiled.

That was all I wanted to hear.

And now for this week’s:


Earlier this week, I was at work when I heard Kathy, one of my co-workers, sneeze.

"Bless you," I said.

Now, why is this weird?

Because I told Kathy "bless you" via Instant Messenger.

And the funny thing was: I didn’t even think twice about it. No verbal communication was used, and neither of us found it remotely strange.

I wrote "bless you."

She wrote "thank you."

And we went upon our day.

A wordless society.

The foundation is building.

Do you like these blogs? Hate them? Somewhere in the middle? Leave me a comment and let me know. Your words keep me write mine. :-)


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