Buying kiddie toys, games, and other gear is one of the many pleasures of being a grandparent. Just ask the junior executives at Mattel, Hasbro, and Toys R Us, who are banking their early retirement on it.
The problem is we’re bombarded with so many choices that it’s nearly impossible to know what to select. And no matter how carefully you weigh the options, these kids will be into something new next week, thanks to the nonstop marketing that turns them into unquenchable consumers while they’re only little squirts.
We’re talking board games, video games, musical toys, magical toys, tiny cars, tiny trains, kiddie boats, kiddie totes, books to read, dolls to feed, toys that walk, toys that talk, and on and on it goes.
Add endless TV and movie tie-ins, and you’ve got enough loot to fill every home in America five times over. Soon the little ones won’t be sleeping in beds anymore. They’ll simply carve out space to lay their heads amid all their wall-to-wall stuff.
As we contemplate this dizzying array, we can’t help looking back fondly on the modest selection that satisfied our young needs. Our toys ran on imagination and sheer kid power. They never needed rebooting. That was something we did in the winter, along with remittening, before we went outside to play.
Our bedroom floors were the original play stations, perfect for an afternoon game of Candy Land, Slapjack, or Sorry! Who needed technology when we could build the strangest contraptions with Tinkertoys or an entire town out of Lincoln Logs?
Of course, those were the days when you took it for granted that kneeling and sitting cross-legged on the floor were part of your body’s repertoire. Now, when you play with your grandkids, do you seem to have trouble bending and twisting like you used to? Maybe it’s time to beef up your GFQ … Grandparent Fitness Quotient.
Here is a simple formula to help you find out where you stand. Remember how much energy it took to be a parent? Multiply that amount by 50, divide by the square root of your current age, and then subtract the number of hours you put in as a couch potato every day. The answer is your GFQ, your ideal energy level for grandparenting. You need to be in tip-top shape to maintain it.
So, if your fitness program went the way of your discarded ThighMaster and Jane Fonda VHS workout tapes, better grab your yoga mat or start hitting the gym STAT. There’s still hope. But make sure to keep the heating pad and Bengay handy.