Toy Box Life Lessons

October 15, 2015 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE, THINGS MY KID DIGS

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My son’s transition to kindergarten has been more difficult than I’d anticipated. He finished preschool a confident, friendly, and bright young boy. I figured he’d just stroll into kinder (as the cool kids call it), turn on the charm, and settle right in.

Yet the first couple of months have been a roller coaster of emotions, for both of us. There are certainly plenty of good days, but also more bad than I’d hoped. The days — both good and bad — are long, a strain on his young mind and body.

My first inclination at pickup is to ask about his day…and if I sense something is amiss, to dig deeper, set it right, and dole out a life lesson on the spot. But often these attempts are met with blank stares from the weary 5-year-old in my back seat.

So when — and how — do I do my digging, setting, and doling? How do I discover what’s going on inside his scruffy little head, so I can then fill it back up with all the good stuff I want to share with him?

Since my son’s birth (and even before), our greatest bond has been over superheroes. As a lifelong comics and superhero fan, nothing has given me greater joy than to pass that passion down to my son. As his personality developed and our differences became more pronounced, these super powered characters, their stories, and their struggles are what always bring us back together.

Hero-filled movies, books, and TV shows are certainly fun for us to experience together. But nothing beats getting down and playing superheroes. Setting up battles and daring rescues, creating plots and mixing universes — it’s a way we’re present with one another where he can feel equal — or oftentimes, in charge.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, we piled a bunch of Playskool Heroes toys into the playhouse in the backyard, and let the magic, mystery and mayhem unfold…

Jon gets Iron Man ready for action. T-Rex gets a snack.

I love the look of concentration on his face when he’s lost in imagination.

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Our playtime was also a great opportunity to dole out a couple of those life lessons I was talking about.

Superheroes are bursting with nuggets of wisdom. You just have to know where to find them… and to use them sparingly. Kids are smart and will figure out if you’re getting too preachy, then force you to play with the lame rubber dinosaur instead of the tricked-out, lighted-up, super-powered one. Or so I’m told.

The nostalgia factor is also a big draw for me, and in particular with these toys. Characters from Marvel Comics, Transformers and the Jurassic Park films bring back great memories for me; yet also act as great transition toys for this little boy so wanting to be a big boy RIGHT NOW. They fit his still-developing hands and motor skills, and are darn-near indestructible — vital for 5-year-old play.
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Here are a few morsels of insight (inspired by the toys) that I’m setting aside for future use…

Toy Box Life Lessons from Hasbro & Playskool

Toy Box Life Lessons from Hasbro & Playskool

Toy Box Life Lessons from Hasbro & Playskool

 

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ABOUT THE TOYS:

TRANSFORMERS RESCUE BOTS HIGH TIDE Playset
Transforming rescue boat High Tide has all manner of cool secret compartments and a movable crane with multiple rescue tools. Based on characters from the animated TV series, Transformers Rescue Bots.
Ages 3-7 years    Available Fall 2015

SUPER HERO ADVENTURES IRON MAN ARMOR UP FORTRESS Playset
Iron Man Tony Stark’s armor fortress has all the bells and whistles — or lights and sounds, rather. Comes with three interchangeable sections and two suits of armor.
Ages 3-7 years    Available Fall 2015

JURASSIC WORLD TYRANNOSAURUS REX
Your kids may be too young yet for Jurassic World, but this roaring, glowing-eyed T-Rex just might tide them over. Comes with trainer figure / dinosaur snack.
Ages 3 years & up    Available now

For more info on Hasbro & Playskool:
Instagram: @Hasbro    Twitter: @HasbroNews    Facebook: Facebook.com/Playskool  •  www.hasbrotoyshop.com

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[Thank you to Playskool Heroes, for encouraging dads and kids to be heroes together. And also for providing the awesome toys in this post, and compensating me for my time. Opinions are my 100% my own. And Jon’s.]

For more superheroes, pop culture, and family fun, visit and like Designer Daddy’s Facebook page.

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3 responses to “Toy Box Life Lessons”

  1. I. Monae says:

    Sometimes, it takes longer than anticipated as you mentioned. I love your idea about taking the opportunity during play to discuss what’s on his mind. I hope it gets better for him.

  2. I wish my daughters followed me into super hero fandom.

    I don’t know if it is a gendered difference, but they looked at me like I was crazy when I tried to interest them into playing with super hero action figures. Instead, I managed to use this strategy during story time where they starred in tales about super-powered girls. Of course, I had to make it sound more like Harry Potter and less like the X-Men or New Mutants.

    As they have become teenagers, I’ve learned to just be by them any time they might want to talk about what is going on in their lives. This often involves late night drives after teen drama has gotten them down.

    (But I did manage to nerd out with my daughter recently. The story is shared in my recent blog post if anyone is interested – dadswithoutballs.com)

    Thanks for sharing this cool story.

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