The inescapable world of Barbies & Ben 10s & Tinker Bells

Three first editions of Barbie dolls from 1959...

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I visited an acquaintance’s a flat sometime ago and was left befuddled by the glut of branded toys and accessories showcased in a room dedicated to Barbies, Ben 10s, Hanna Montanas, Tinker Bells…

Not a single toy was accidentally out of place, or shared illicit space with another. Building blocks were neatly placed in boxes. The balls seemed to have forgotten that they were meant to roll without permission. The Barbie kitchen, bedroom and bathroom were in perfect ever-after order with all her little accessories in place.

The room was big enough to accommodate even a slide (which I sincerely believe should belong to sandpits or playgrounds; else the child has no reason to venture out and muddy her skirts).

By the time I somehow managed to drag my daughter out of the Barbie spell and the associated embarrassment of riches, an hour had passed by with much pain and frustration. I walked out of that kid’s room with a hundred questions hovering over my head.

Does it take all this to bring up a child? If yes, where does that leave people like me who tied a knotted string to a tin box on one end and dragged it all around the courtyard making unbearable noise?

These days, back-to-school does not just mean reuniting with friends and classmates. It’s a season to shop accessories. It’s about flaunting which brand the kid is after. Everything comes branded—right from bags to water bottles to hankies to silly erasers. Each film comes with its own army of toy characters, too.

In my opinion, toys are the only lifeless things that can help shape a child’s character. Alas, not all of them can do that! These branded ones can hardly contribute to the mental growth of a child, but can successfully rob her of creativity and teach her the art of accumulation. Most often, the child sits with her battery-driven toys all around her and makes them play. She does not create a toy of her own. She does not have to.

There is so much of marketing strategy that goes before releasing each toy that it leaves parents defeated even before they begin to build an argument as to why everything in life need not be perfect. That chaos goes with it. That disorder goes with it.

And it is in this chaos that a child learns to create!