Toy Safety Article on Official Santa Mail






Days of Old Fashioned Way of Living

Toy Safety - Days of Old

Old Fasioned Common Sense

Toy Safety, There is no such thing.

    When I was a little boy, back in the early fifties, I had a little red tractor that I got for Christmas. It was modeled after the tractors of the time so it had three wheels, one on the front a two in the back. The treads left tractor-like imprints in dirt and snow. It had a covered chain drive, and a little shift lever on the right side in front of the steering wheel. It wasn’t . connected to anything, it just wiggled back and forth and I had to imagine that it did something.

I rode that tractor up and down the sidewalk in front of my house as fast as I could make it go. If you turned it too sharp when you were pedaling real fast then it would dump over with me on it. I would skin an elbow or scrape a knee, get back up, get back on, and take off again. In the worst case, I could count on Mom to coat it with this red stuff we called “monkey blood”. It would burn like the dickens for a minute, she would blow on it like she was trying to start a campfire, and a minute later, I was back out the door, looking for my next adventure. If I got tired of farming, or racing, then that tractor became a tank or a space ship.

I loved that tractor and let me tell you something. It was full of sharp edges and metal burrs. If you turned the tractor upside down and spun the pedal by hand, I could hold a card to the treads and make the best racket. If I stuck my finger in the chain while it was spinning, more often than not, my finger got pinched. I’d holler for a while, suck on the injured part and go on about my business. BUT, filed away in my “need to know” file in my brain was the warning, “sticking finger in moving chain hurts”, and I didn’t do it again.

    We lived in the “now”. Yesterday was filed away and tomorrow was a maybe, at best. We had adventures in far away places, threw dirt clods at each other, had b-b gun wars, dug tunnels in dirt piles, climbed to the top of trees, stuck our tongues to freezing metal, dared the bull to chase us, and just did what we felt like doing. We never stopped, never slowed down, never had play dates, and ate with whatever kid we were visiting at the time. WE WERE FREE!...and then along came television, targeted advertising, consumer protection groups, lawyers who were now allowed to advertise, and court systems who allowed anyone to sue for anything.

Almost over night we became a nation of cringing little sheeple who forgot how to think for themselves and blamed others, sued others, for any mishap that may have happened. Due to the litigious mind set of the average consumer now, there have to be so many warnings on products, that we no longer know what a toy does, but what it might do if you use it wrong. It is not my intent to get into a rant here, and please forgive the momentary outburst. What I have to say is this.

    Toys are not dangerous in and of themselves. If a toy is used according to manufacturer guidelines, then it will more than likely be safe. Believe me, toy designers are doing their best to avoid building litigation machines. Ultimately, the responsibility for toy safety belongs with the parents, not with the manufacturer. Be a responsible parent. When the child first starts begging for the newest toy, find out how the toy is being advertised. Most often, the toy is being portrayed doing things that it can’t possibly do. This happened with an army action figure a lot. He couldn’t really throw a grenade or mow down the enemy with guns blazing, but the seed was planted, making it ok for little boys to own a doll he could dress up and play with.

Also, look at the moral message the toy is giving. We played with toys that encouraged being doctors and farmers, astronauts and cowboys, not street walkers and mercenaries. Do some research and make it your responsibility to know about the toy you are going to buy. Just because there is a line at the toy store waiting to buy the latest toy doesn’t make it a good toy for your kid.

    Read the labels!

If there are so many warnings on the box that you can’t see the contents clearly, then chances are that the manufacturer has been sued for every one of them and the toy may be unsafe. Do you want your child to find the next reason for a warning label?

The last thing you can do, is this. A month before Christmas, unplug the TV except for kids specials. Spend the time retraining your youngsters to have fun together. Play games, read, do puzzles, involve them in activities that are uplifting and seasonal. Find the local guy, probably a guy over fifty, who has a shop and makes toys. Commission him to build something special for your child out of wood, and better yet, ask his help to teach your youngster to build toys for himself.

    Ultimately, parents, that precious child is your responsibility. What that child will remember from childhood can go either way. He can remember being ignored and having all of the “guilt toys” thrown at him as in, “Don’t bother me right now, Mommy’s busy”, or he can remember putting together a puzzle or making a wooden car in the shop with Grandpa or Dad. The choice is yours. 

Article Contribution by Edward Smith. Mr. Smith is an established sci-fi writer with real world views on life. He lives with his loving wife Virginia and his four cats in the Ozark Mountains.

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