Not A Regular Mom, A Cool Mom: Babies Have Terrible Taste
My infant’s first birthday is coming up very soon, and that means that in between bouts of saying, “It can’t have been a year already!” to everyone who will listen, I have to go shopping. Rather, I should say that I “get” to go shopping, because shopping is fun, especially when one is shopping for toys.
Toys are fantastic. I never stopped liking toys. I bought Barbie dolls in college and still can’t pass a toy store without handling all the action figures. So shopping for a baby should be tremendous fun, except for the fact that babies have terrible, terrible taste.
For example, my infant is just the right size and mobility to use a riding toy right now. Since I first got pregnant, my husband has been daydreaming about this delightful ladybug riding toy he spotted at a charming little baby store in the 7th arrondissement:
What a wonderful little bug that is! But the baby has no interest in the whimsical European ladybug. Instead, she loves this thing that my mother bought for her:
I do not know what the baby is thinking. That toy is not even French! But she loves that yellow plastic car more than she loves anything in the world. I think she even loves it more than she loves pulling my glasses off my face and hitting me with them.
Maybe she’s not a vehicle kid, but that’s OK. When she’s bigger she can use Uber.
I took her to a nearby toy store that has a wonderful selection of high-quality stuffed animals. Her father and I both loved stuffed animals as a baby, so I assumed she’d like them as well. After we walked in and brushed off the attempted ministrations of the sales staff I tried to steer her towards an exceptional piece by Steiff.
Sure, this owl looks a little bit like he was made of the stuff I pull out of my vacuum cleaner after my in-laws’ goldendoodle visits, but that’s how you know he’s quality. That chewed-up, artisanal look is hard to find in modern stuffed animals. There’s just nothing up to par with the charm of a hard, 19th century toy made of wood and wet mohair. It is described as an “heirloom-quality” toy, which I think means that some day my baby could give it to her baby, and he wouldn’t be allowed to play with it either.
But just as I was pointing out the owl’s itchy fur and explaining that the very best stuffed animals don’t like to be cuddled, she started waving and cooing over my shoulder. I turned to see what had caught her attention, thinking maybe it was one of the life-sized horses near the door and that maybe I had a future equestrian on my hands, but she was reaching for this:
You’re killing me here, baby.
The accouterments of babyhood can be pretty darn charming. The onesies, the Moses baskets, the handcrafted wooden toys. It’s enough to make a person want to put their hair in a messy topknot and chronicle every memory for Pinterest, or at least Instagram. The only problem is that babies and small children really seem to prefer the brightly colored plastic stuff covered in licensed characters to all the stuff that we, as cool parents, think they should like instead.. Kim Kardashian could afford to buy her baby a Louis Vuitton rolling suitcase, and you know Kanye West would prefer it if she did, but North West uses a Frozen bag covered in giant plastic rhinestones, because North West is a baby and that is how babies roll.
As much as I would love to keep my baby as a chic little accessory, I’m a pretty firm believer in personal style as a means of self-expression, and for me that means that a person gets to pick the stuff they like. When the baby was a cuddly, floppy lump that could not lift her head up, I could dress her in whatever I liked and hand her all the organic rubber French teethers I could buy. (Everyone reading this knows I’m talking about Sophie the Giraffe, and that’s why mom blogs are fantastic.) But now that she is bigger, she gets to decide what she likes. If that includes licensed characters and plastic cars, so be it.
I’m also buying the fancy shit, though, because I am an adult and that means it’s my prerogative to buy myself a posh stuffed owl if I want to. It’ll just live in the baby’s room for the sake of plausible deniability.
Not A Regular Mom, A Cool Mom is a column about fashion, beauty, and motherhood. You can sit at our lunch table. On Wednesdays, we wear pink.