Monday, December 12, 2011

Salvaging a Cheap Toy

For regular readers, you may remember that last Friday I mentioned that one of the items I picked up for 40% off at the Henry Vilas Zoo was a train. My son is 3, and obsessed with trains (and a few other things). He saw it dangling on the wall and had to have it. Slightly distracted by being in a gift shop with a double stroller, a 3 year old and 1 year old I agreed to the purchase even though I had my doubts. The train was originally $10, but with the discount came down to $6. That was worth the price to avoid complete meltdown of a child who could not understand that this toy was highly unlikely to work with his wooden Nuchi train set. Being frugal also focuses on the wise expenditure of time. That translates into me picking and choosing which fights to take on. A $6 train did not rank high enough to "discuss" this in public.

Once home the train was removed from its package and the disappointment quickly set in. No, it would not fit on his Nuchi train set. He was okay with this because the box included not only an engine but two box cars, its own track, and a few sign posts. We decided he would have a mini-train set. Then we discovered just how cheap this toy was. The cars would not stay hooked together. The cars would not stay on the track. The track would not stay connected. The signs were way too small to exist in a home with a 1 year old sister. The only thing of value appeared to be the battery that came in the box. Did I mention the train claims to be musical?

Most people would have tossed the train the moment the child's back was turned. My son not only has an obsession with trains, but a very good memory. Plus, I hate tossing money into the trash. This thing wasn't 2 hours old! Something must be done with it. Then inspiration hit. Let's add some ornament hooks to the engine and box cars and put them on the tree! My son was delighted. He had taken charge of putting decorations on the tree this year. Not only did he hang the ornaments from the box, but supplemented with a toy harmonica, a discarded sock, cat toys, and now a cheap plastic train from a gift store.

Remember what I said about choosing battles wisely? This year I have delegated the tree to my son, and unleashed untapped creativity. I have no opinion on what should or should not be on the tree. I sit back and admire his selections, and often think I know how Frank Lloyd Wrights' mother may have felt when he was a toddler. My son is a short Unitarian with a flare for design and an eye for the ladies. All he needs is a cape! He also has a frugal mom who stretches the family budget so that we can one day pay for college...which may or may not focus on architecture.

How about you - have you transformed a holiday item or gift to give it new life? Share your ideas and stories.

No comments:

Post a Comment