Down with the kids - Monocolumn | Monocle


A daily bulletin of news & opinion

16 October 2014

Yesterday, knowing I needed something to talk about and having no idea what that might be, I visited the Guardian website for inspiration. Perhaps I’d find the results of an intriguing bike-riding survey, news of an inspiring urban-regeneration project in Southeast Asia, a thought-provoking interview with the new CEO of – ooh, top five bath toys!

I have a legitimate excuse for being so easily distracted by an article on water-based playthings: my one-year-old son. Bathtime is one of Oscar’s favourite parts of the day so I’m always on the lookout for new things to add to his buoyant arsenal. To be fair, it needs updating: the legs of the turtle-that’s-possibly-a-tortoise have stopped flipping and the nifty little speedboat that promised so much keeps going round in circles before sinking.

Then again, Oscar couldn’t care less how said items behave as long as he can chuck them over the side of the bath. And as I perused the list and weighed up the merits of a spinning starfish versus a head-bobbing penguin, I had to question my motivation – particularly when you factor in my secret lunchtime trips to Selfridges.

The temptation is too great: the department store is but a five-minute walk from Midori House. I bow my head as I pass the menswear section, foodhall, home-cinema stand and other grown-up areas where I should be focusing my attention for I will not be deterred from my goal: I’m here for Spider-man.

Triple-attack Spider-man to be precise, with his web whip and web shocker. Then there’s Monster Truck Mayhem Scalextric, replete with take-off and landing sections. And the pièce de résistance, of course: Star Wars Lego. Who can resist an Imperial Star Destroyer with spring-loaded shooter or a Jedi Scout Fighter with rotating cannon and escape pod?

Thing is, Oscar isn’t old enough to play with any of these toys yet and won’t be for at least another five years – so there’s no avoiding the fact that I’m admiring these flashing and beeping baubles for my own enjoyment. This worries me slightly. To be clear: I didn’t have a child just to legitimise buying toys; that would be problematic on a number of levels. And I do still like adult diversions: cheese and wine and classical music and books with long words and stuff. But is it weird that I still like toys so much at the ripe old age of 32?

I’ve tried to find solace online. The best I can come up with is a scientifically dubious survey commissioned by a kids’ TV channel saying men only mature at the age of 43 and another by a money-saving website in which 61 per cent of men say they collect toys aimed at children. As that’s all I’ve got to work with, I’ll take comfort from the fact that I’m supposedly in the majority and make the most of the next 11 years.

Excellent. Now, how much is that pirate ship with the water-squirting octopus?

Dan Poole is Monocle’s chief sub editor.


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