Like most parents before Santa decides on what toys are delivered a debate is held to see just what toys Jr. is ready for and which ones may be over his, her, or our heads. As much of a no-brainer as this may seem (after all a toddler isn't ready for a dirt bike) it's actually a task that requires a lot of thought. Every board game, doll house, and Lego set comes with a suggest age range that the toy is geared towards. The key word here is range as in the youngest age that should understand how the product works to the oldest age that shouldn't look at you like you are mentally challenged because you just bought a 10 yr old a pack of Play-doh. This is why it's important to know where your child is developmentally so that Santa doesn't waste his time making toys that your kids have already grown out of. One thing to remember is that they can always age up, but they will never age down.
Just this week we opened up Chutes and Ladders for the first time. This the same game of Chutes and Ladders that sat neatly wrapped under our tree around this time a year ago. In our defense we knew that at almost three years old son Fred wasn't quite there, but the idea was that we'd start stocking up on classic games that he would be ready to play as the year went on. Candy Land, Memory, Hi-Ho Cherry-O, and Elefun also got delivered last Christmas. Several of these were a huge hit right off the bat..... others have mysteriously disappeared. The games aren't missing because Fred wasn't old enough or smart enough to play, but more so because he doesn't feel the need to comply with some unknown persons idea of how he should play the game that was given to him.
As I mentioned this week I got the idea that a good ole round of Chutes and Ladders would be the perfect way to spend a Tuesday night. For those who have forgotten the basics; you get a board with 100 squares, a spinner, and 4 characters. Ladders take you up, Chutes bring you down, and 3 yr olds don't care about anything else other than this. A typical game may take you 15 minutes. Our game lasted 45. It could have gone on all night, but after putting up with Fred switching characters three times, constantly taking turns that weren't his, riding every chute and ladder regardless of what square he was on, and attempting to play the game upside-down while hanging off the edge of the couch....his mother and I finally admitted defeat.
The lesson to be learned of course is that when consulting with Santa on what would make the perfect Christmas gift it's important to also remember that regardless of what is given, everyone including Mom and Dad should be old enough and be prepared to be patient enough to play with it.