After listening to my husband tell a story about one of his favorite toys as a child, I thought I’d search it out and find one online so he could have a good time with our son after the Easter bunny came to our house. No surprise, Wal-Mart was ready to answer the call and a Styrofoam airplane was shipped to our home. I never had a Styrofoam airplane growing up, and I wondered why my parents didn’t buy gifts like this for me, but it was obvious after this monstrosity came in the mail. It was way too big for the yard in town. Naturally, I started quizzing my husband about other toys they may have had growing up that I didn’t, so it became this list - the five good and bad toys for country life. Now, you could certainly have these toys in town or in the country, but these are just reviews on how they’ve worked out for us. It may even give you a good idea on what to buy your child, family member, or friend’s child to show them what a rock star gift giver you are.
1.) Flyers - This was where the conversation with my husband started. Once a year, he and his brothers always received Styrofoam airplanes. These were not little airplanes, no, they are quite large. I was a little frightened when I found the Fed-Ex shipment in the back of one of the farm trucks as I was coming home one day. The box was taller than me. I was also perturbed that my husband’s vehicles have become drop-off locations for our deliveries, but that’s a whole other story about the number of vehicles that we have that no longer move, ever. Obviously, the Fed-Ex and UPS drivers and the mailman have come to the conclusion that one in particular is our waterproof delivery box (and I can’t honestly say it’s even waterproof). Anyway, the plane wasn’t quite as large as the box made it out to be. The wingspan is four feet (so great packing Wal-Mart). It was a blast. My son keeps asking to take it back out over and over. By changing the back wing, you can send it flying really far or send it into loops (which is the best because then you send everyone around running for their lives trying not to get dive-bombed by the plane). Of course, it’s fragile, and it will get broken eventually, like five minutes after opening it up, but duct tape will fix it without ruining its balance.
Try kites too. My son loves to fly kites, but I’d suggest buying cheap Dollar Store ones because as soon as it’s on the ground, little kids feel the need to step on it, poke holes through it, or take off the plastic pieces and chase the cat around with their “sword.” Just my kid? Oh…
2.) Waterproof remote control cars - My son is a sucker for a puddle and I’m just a sucker for lots and lots of laundry. If this was a blog about what apparel to buy a kid, I’d say a slicker suit and about ten pairs of boots to keep a good rotation so they completely dry out before they jump in another puddle or cow patty, but this blog is about toys. My husband didn’t mention a remote control car, but my son loves it. For Christmas he received two different remote control cars, both made for puddle jumping, and he uses them just as fast as I keep the batteries in, which really means not as often as he’d like because I’m not a millionaire.
3.) Ice skates - My son doesn’t have a pair of ice skates yet, but when my husband was growing up, they had a bunch of ice skates for that rare occasion when a pond would freeze over. Heads up, if a cow is walking across it, you should be good. I’m not a fan of the cold, so I’d probably be the one that would say, “Ahhhh, darn. You don’t have a size 8, just 8 ½. Well, I’m going to head back to the house and watch a movie. Have fun!” Based on his recollections though, it was a good time had by all, except that one kid who fell in. Just kidding!
4.) Shovels, buckets, and sand kits - No sandbox? That’s okay. I don’t know about other kids in the country, but mine is worse than a dog. He digs anywhere and everywhere. I’ve relegated him to the large hole that he started digging this year, filling his tractor trailer full of dirt and dumping it somewhere else, but I still catch him occasionally digging in a new spot. My mom would have put this to good use, probably directing me on where to dig holes for her flower garden or tomato plants, but his need to dig goes way beyond my gardening needs. It’s my own fault for reading to him about dinosaurs and excavations. He’s sure there’s one in our yard.
5.) Your leftover clear plastic containers - If you want to really win over a kid, especially one that likes to explore outside and find any and every bug from gigantic earthworms to unidentified, slightly robotic looking scary critters, just hand them a large bag of clear containers with holes in the lids and they’ll go to town. Just a cheap, good time. If you are feeling a little techy as well, download Project Noah on your phone so they can take snapshots of what they find and learn about them as well. Before the day is over though, it is your job to free these critters when the little one isn’t looking, or you’ll have a museum of bug carcasses in your house and a lot of explaining to do.
1.) Skateboards - My husband received a skateboard when he was younger. It was the eighties, so he was, what would you say, stoked or siked, about it. That is, until he tried to use it at home. When you don’t have a sidewalk, your lawn and driveway are too bumpy, and your mom says, “Not in the house,” it ends up in the basement in the never-to-be-seen-again pile.
2.) Roller skates - Same as the skateboard, although, he would have looked pretty cool if they would have taken him to the skating rink and he OWNED HIS OWN SKATES. That’s some serious love of skating! Plus, he would have been snatched up for every couple’s skate. If you’re singing “I Swear” to yourself right now, you’re probably my age.
3.) Tricycle - This is from personal experience. My dad gave my son a tricycle. It was just the standard little tricycle that had survived a couple of grandkids at his house, but my dad has the tendency to just give things away. If you stop by his house, this is how things go: “Want some tea? No. Want something to eat? I made chili. Or I could make anything you want. No. Want a kick in the ass? HAHAHA! No really, want to take a tricycle home with you.” Just answer yes to the tea and it will stop. So we had the tricycle for a couple of weeks, then things started coming loose. It couldn’t take the downhill chases on the driveway. Slowly but surely, the nuts and bolts started coming undone. It’s currently in the garage storage, for that never-to-come day when we have some concrete out here. We do have another tricycle with large wheels that can take the beating a little better.
4.) Walkie Talkies - This would be good in a house that wasn’t our house. Since we are not done with our house, the rooms that are done don’t provide enough space to use Walkie Talkies. My son will turn his on, and I can still hear him in the next room. Then we take them outside and he runs off too far for me to hear him in range of the Walkie Talkie. Oh yeah, by the way, I’m talking about $2 Walkie Talkies from Dollar Store. If you are willing to spend more than that, you’d probably be okay. Also, the ones I’m referring to only lasted about two and a half days at that, so my experience is obviously limited.
5.) Anything of value or importance - Don’t give a country kid like mine anything of value or personal importance. If they think the doors should open on the nice model car you brought them, they’ll make the doors open, even if they’re glued on. If they want to color on the Dr. Seuss collection that you bought them, all hard bound and pretty, they’ll wait until you’re in the shower and sneakily get out the markers, hide behind their bed, color the pages, and then add a little bit to the wall as well. Country kids have too much clean air filling their little brains with oxygen, making the thought process run a little too rapidly for any mommy’s liking.
So that’s the list of good and bad toys for a country kid. If you have any experience in this area, especially the inexpensive or free items I should add, please share. If you are a relative or friend that is thinking, “I think I’ll get that kid a toy the next time I come out,” then you’re not invited over unless you’re willing to take at least five toys back with you.