June 6, 2015

"A neighborhood father tossed out all of his kids’ toys after reading that American kids were 'overstimulated.'"

"He then gave them a 'toy' he’d seen kids play with in Africa — a plastic milk jug with a rock inside. Still worried about overstimulation, he gave away all their books but two."

From "Cucumbers: The New Birthday Cake?"

(By the way, I agree that children are overstimulated, and I think they'd be better off with only one toy... but not a rock in a plastic milk jug!)

44 comments:

Deirdre Mundy said...

Legos. If we threw out everything but the legos, my kids would never notice. (But the grandparents would freak out, so we suffer...)

Gahrie said...

Why stop with toys?

Send them back down into the coal mines!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

... I think they'd be better off with only one toy... but not a rock in a plastic milk jug!

Maybe something from Smitten Kitten?

Gahrie said...

Seriously, the whole idea of "childhood" is a modern invention, one still not shared by at least half the world's population. Society has to achieve a certain level of wealth before childhood can be indulged.

Even the industrialized wealthy countries have only had childhood for a relatively short time (say 200 hundred years?).

I tell my students every year on the first day of class that billions of kids in history, and hundreds of millions today would literally do anything to trade places with them.

"All you have to do is sit in a room for 7 hours a day and learn? Most of you don't even have chores when you get home? Sign me up".

Sebastian said...

Which kids? Overstimulated by what standard?

Of course, there's enormous variation in content and level of "stimulation," starting with language. Which federal agency is going to keep educated parents from "overstimulating" their kids by cramming their brains with all those thousands of words?

Again with many variations, kids today (and adults, I'm pleased to say) have easier access to the vast wealth of art, culture, and knowledge produced in centuries past. Exactly which great pantings and compositions and scientific insights, entirely inaccessible to all but a small elite until very recently, should my and your kids stop enjoying?

There's a very plausible argument that "stimulation" of various kinds enhances intelligence. I would venture that rising stimulation helps account for the Flynn effect. At what point have we had enough, who is to say, and why?

richard mcenroe said...

If neighborhood father thinks he's raising African tribal kids he's in good shape. Otherwise, what a frigging moron.

richard mcenroe said...

Gahrie, give them a pointed stick and set them to planting.

Ambrose said...

And all the other neighborhood fathers got to say to their children "See, I am not the worst father in the world..."

n.n said...

It's a take on asceticism intended to develop character. The problem is not necessarily overstimulation, but rather corruption through irresponsible or self-serving fulfillment.

fivewheels said...

I'm generally against hyperbolic accusations that this or that behavior is abuse, but ... OK, it's hyperbole, but keeping books away from your children is abuse. At the very least, it's irresponsibly stupid and makes you not just misguided and silly and a hippy Berkeley dingbat, but a flat-out bad person.

Dick Stanley said...

They'd probably hate him, anyway, when they've grown up, just on general principles, but now they'll really hate him.

Paddy O said...

Adults are overstimulated too. Take away the dad's stuff.

Scott said...

What a head case. And a jerk.

Laslo Spatula said...

"From "Cucumbers: The New Birthday Cake?""

I have already written of the cultural importance of cucumbers.

I am Laslo.'

Michael K said...

I thought so. Berzerkley.

"“We don’t believe in sugar,” the mother sniffed. It was useless engaging her; I knew her type all too well."

Yup. Obama voters in their native habitat.

Coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fivewheels said...

My favorite toddler rebellion story: Parents don't allow toy guns in the house or any "violent" play or imagery in an effort to raise a perfect pajama boy.

One day at breakfast, the lad carefully bites his toast into the shape of a pistol. Score one for imagination.

kcom said...

I lived in Africa but never saw a rock in a milk jug. In fact, I never saw a milk jug. It was all powdered milk in cans where I was.

The toys I remember smaller boys playing with were little cars they'd made themselves out of scraps of wood and metal, little kites (which didn't really fly) and, most memorable, large metal rings that you could roll across the ground by pushing on them with a stick that had a little nail hammered into it at the end to form a little notch for the wheel to push against.

sean said...

American children score much higher than African children on IQ tests--and of course on any sort of test of educational achievement--so this approach seems seriously misguided, unless you want your kids to live lives as poor, nasty, brutish and short as the typical African life.

RLB_IV said...

My daughter wanted a cemetery set for Christmas. She got it. After her mother got her some salt peter she made fire crackers. It was great fun. Fortunately she didn't maim her brother.
She didn't go for chemistry in collage. Go figure!

Bob Boyd said...

I don't have a problem with giving the kid a rock, but he should have to get a paper route or something and save up to buy his own jug.

acm said...

I don't think the word "overstimulated" means what this guy thinks it means.

richard mcenroe said...

RLB_IV I'm hoping you meant to type "chemistry" and autocorrect got jiggy...

Donna B. said...

One thing I haven't seen on Amazon -- an embalming set, which should certainly come before the cemetery set. There is a vintage enbalming table for sale.

Deirdre Mundy said...

American kids today. Sheesh. Needing Cemetery kits! Back in my day, we just made our own, with dead pets and rocks.

What's next? Mud pit kits?

Bob Boyd said...

Here's one ironically named the Do-It Yourself Mud Pie Kit.


http://gigglesgalore.net/diy-mud-pie-kits/

exhelodrvr1 said...

As long as he doesn't let them go to the park by themselves!!

David said...

"but not a rock in a plastic milk jug!."

Totally agree. Just a plain old rock by itself is plenty. Stimulates their imagination.

David said...

RLB_IV said...
My daughter wanted a cemetery set for Christmas.


Her name is Elvira, right?

Freeman Hunt said...

We are more virtuous than this indulgent family and allow our children only a stick and a notecard with one word on it.

Freeman Hunt said...

Next year we plan to downsize to a splinter and one letter.

Amexpat said...

Nothing new in giving kids pet rocks. Combining it with a jug is an interesting innovation, but perhaps a tad too stimulating.

Babaluigi said...

Yeah, well again, I am glad my child-rearing days are over. Definitely made my mistakes, but I think I picked up a few good ideas along the way. (Of course, there were days when I had to sustain myself with a line from Rosanne Barr's stand-up days, "If the kids are alive when you come home from work, I've done my job.")

I did censor their music a bit when they were in the younger ages, because of the lyrics. Rap was a problem, so I decided to let that one work itself out. I hated the crap, but had a "compromise" rule that we could listen to 2 rap songs in a row (on the car radio), then something else. I would also talk about the lyrics when I could, such as, " Oh, he's talking about killing cops in that song. That's nice. Did you know that Uncle Fred, your Dad's Best Man in our wedding, was a cop? Yeah, killing cops, that's a nice song...". I have not caught grief from them for that move, and the "rap stage" did not last long....

Probably the best toys in the world would be rolls of foil, scotch tape and duct tape, cardboard boxes, and sand. From these things, kingdoms can arise...

But seriously, is there actually such thing as too many books?

clint said...

I used to have tons of toys, but somehow large cardboard boxes were the best.

But, yeah, books?!

If the author didn't just make the whole thing up ("all their books but two" is almost fairy-tale in its vague specificity), I'd love to know which two books.

*That* might be considerably more interesting than "look at these exaggerated caricatures of Bezerkley parents, let us point and mock."

If you were certain that information overload was damaging your kids, and wanted to cut them down to two book, which ones would you pick?

Green Eggs and Ham? The Once and Future King? Alice in Wonderland?

tim maguire said...

People are welcome to believe whatever tney like. It's one of the joys of living in a free society.

Gahrie, childhood is hardly a modern invention, though it may be a modern discovery.

stlcdr said...

RLB_IV said...
My daughter wanted a cemetery set for Christmas. She got it. After her mother got her some salt peter she made fire crackers. It was great fun. Fortunately she didn't maim her brother.
She didn't go for chemistry in collage. Go figure!

6/6/15, 8:08 PM


I don't think this is surprising. You have to try something to find out you don't particularly get excited about it.

Of course, that doesn't justify the overstimulation that we have that has no value. There is an ability to do one thing for 1, 4, 8, 12 or more hours that needs our brain to experience to determine how to do it.

tim in vermont said...

large metal rings that you could roll across the ground by pushing on them with a stick that had a little nail hammered into it at the end to form a little notch for the wheel to push against.

Grampa said he played with the same thing, except I am not too sure about the nail in the stick. I think they made them from the hoops of old wagon wheels.

campy said...

He gets a plastic jug to put his rock in? Spoiled brat.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Books. Father in the great armchair, we kids gathered round, he reading aloud Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Anonymous said...

"large metal rings that you could roll across the ground by pushing on them with a stick that had a little nail hammered into it at the end to form a little notch for the wheel to push against."

So much fun. Restoring the bent bike wheels for horsing around is an art.

Maya S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alexander said...

Liberals be pro-choice.

Except when it comes to toys.

If you like your Barbie dream house, you can keep your Barbie dream house.

Unless we think it's a greater social benefit to give it to Peter. Maybe one day he'll grow into Patricia. I dunno - something for the Kelo vs. New London folks to think about.

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