Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bringing in the Next Generation

I am currently going through potty training with my four-year-old son. Yes, I admit it. He's four. He should have been potty trained earlier but I truly believe he was not ready for it.

But then, we might not have been using the right bribes.

We decided to fully commit this week though. My son is getting too old (and too rough) for the little-kid area of our gym, so we had to finally just say no to diapers.

Thank God for Transformer toys.

I never really thought about how fantasy/sci-fi movies are a toy marketer's dream. But think about it. Every non-threatening (for the small children anyway) alien, space-ship and animated creature are bound to end up as a toy in your child's toy box.

I should know.

This week I am singing the praises of Bumblebee. For the few who haven't seen Transformers, Bumblebee is the yellow Camaro. And my son's all time favorite Transformer. In an attempt to encourage pee-peeing on the potty, I took my son to Target and bought the "Stealth Bumblebee" and told my son he could have it when he peed on the potty.

I have never seen such determination in a four-year-old. He was dying to get his hand on that toy. My son didn't really recognize the urge to pee, but by golly, he was going to figure it out. Every time we'd go to the potty and he couldn't go, he'd say his equipment "wasn't working." But once he started to feel like he had to go, he'd tell me it was "working now" and we'd go into the bathroom and try again. I think it must've taken 10 trips for him to succeed, but he got his Bumblebee.

Next, we moved on to "Speed Racer."

We haven't even seen the movie and we own "Speed Racer" toys. I have no interest in seeing "Speed Racer" and my son knows who Speed Racer and Racer X are. He knows the name of the Mach 5 and let me tell you, that toy was wonderful incentive to keep my child to on the potty.

But I have to say, before we even started potty training, the toys were taking over. We went to Disneyland a couple of weeks ago and my son, who has never seen any of the Indiana Jones movies, is already wanting Indiana Jones toys. And who can blame him? Have you seen the Indiana Jones Electronic Sound FX Whip? Heck, I want to get me one of those! I would have loooooved that as a kid.

And if it wasn't enough to market toys to our kids, they're marketing food now too. Have you ever seen the "fruit snacks" (I use the word "fruit" loosely here...) they're selling these days? If you don't have kids you may not know what "fruit snacks" are. They're little packaged bits of candy disguised as a "healthy" snack that may or may not have anything resembling fruit in them. But that's besides the point. They're shaped like your favorite characters from you favorite movies. They make Indiana Jones, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Cars and even Kung Fu Panda snacks. Yes, they even have the snacks before the movie comes out. I do not know of a child in my daughter's class who does not show up with fruit snacks in their lunch. It's in the rule book apparently. Oh and let's not forget the cereals. They also have a Kung Fu Panda cereal already and I'm sure we've bought every princess cereal at one time or another.

But you gotta hand it to the marketing gurus out there. They have it down cold. My house has everything from "Transformers" to "Pirates of the Caribbean" represented in their toy boxes and they can't wait to see "Kung Fu Panda."

At least my son will use the toilet now.


furiousBall said...

i have one of those whips too, but it's not a toy... well, somewhat.

Heather said...

I have a Speed Racer Mach 5. And I used to have Soundwave when I was in high school. I even had He-Man figures--talk about blatant marketing.

Regarding toilet training, I recently read that some kids aren't even physically ready until after age three. So cheers that you didn't rush the process.

My daughter recently turned two and I'm lucky to get her to sit on her potty for more than a minute. The potty makes a swell playground for *her* action figures (Fantastic Four, Green Lantern, etc..)

I don't want to go too fast on these milestones because once they're achieved, we as parents can't go back.

Great blog, by the way. I'd going to add it to my blog roll over at The Galaxy Express if you don't mind!

Di Francis said...

Ah yes. the bribery method. I'm glad it works for you. My kids, however, only decided to take the toys for a couple of days and decided . . . Not. Both were around 4 when they PT. Why? Neither cared. Not at all. Would wear nasty, wet, dirty diapers and if you asked if they were in wet or dirty diapers, they'd both say, nope. And run off and play. My daughter has been semi-trained for quite some time but took back steps recently. But we're getting close. I know.

Good luck. Solidarity Mom!


Stewart Sternberg said...

I think superhero toys and stuff are life giving. I have a Mick Foley action figure staring at me as I type this, and then there's my Spiderman Pez dispenser. Beside that is a Hulk fist.


Pathetic? Okay. I'll give you that. But there's cool and then there's cool. Can..someone tell me what it is? I've never experienced that "c" word. The most I've ever been is enthusiastically not lame.

Fab said...

ah bribery... it also works as a babysit. I have used it with the kids of my brother and sister. Though it is cutting a bit in my budget, as a young working girl. There are way too many movies out these days... and too many toys and "must have's"!

Charles Gramlich said...

Bumblebee was pretty cool once he cleaned up.

Crunchy Carpets said...

We are a house full of Transformers and Star Wars stuff.

We have a store here called 'Ages 3+ up' It is our torture..soooo much coooool stuuuuuuf....