My niece Andee will be celebrating her sixth birthday tomorrow. It’s amazing how much she’s grown, from watching her make her first steps, to hearing her utter her first words, and presently guiding her as she makes her way through her first year of school. With that feeling of awe from witnessing the development of a beautiful human being comes the annual challenge of getting that special something for her birthday that won’t insult her intelligence.
Especially now, since the concept of the birthday present has become all too clear to Andee. My bibliophile cousin Angela has been giving books, all much appreciated by the little one. But on my end, finding the best gift has always been a challenge. I spent hours going through the aisles of Toy Kingdom last Friday and Saturday for something that’s not too hard on the wallet but at the same time provides Andee hours of distraction.
She loves playing the games on my celphone, so I decided to look for one of those LCD-based mini-games a la the Game and Watch’s of yore. I spotted an item that seemed neat-o and quite cheap – the “innovative” Gamevoice. (It’s made in China, so there.) You get a main unit with five different games, each game contained in a cartridge (bearing its own LCD screen) which you snap onto the unit. I thought it to be a novel idea, and I knew Andee would love the variety.
After having it tested, I went to Cibo to try it out. To my dismay, none of the games had a decent level of playability. The graphics were jumpy and you could hardly tell what goes on. My mistake was that I had assumed that since Game and Watch became popular around 20 years ago, its playability factor had become a standard. Stoopid me, no wonder Gamevoice was so cheap. I was certain she’d off the Gamevoice by the end of the day. I returned the unit the next day and tarried to get a replacement.
The Kids Dough Bucket from Young Artists was more than triple the Gamevoice price, but it seemed a worthy buy. It’s a Play-Doh clone, with the bucket containing small jugs of soft clay and a bunch of molds, syringes, and tools. Since Angela’s got the bookworm theme going for her presents, I thought I’d go for the artistic/creative theme. Kids Dough Bucket fit the bill quite nicely. Heck, I’m actually thinking of getting a kit myself. Don’t tell anyone.
True enough, Andee loved it. We devoted a fair amount of time making ice cream and animals and spaghetti and whatever suited our fancies. My brother and mother even joined us for a short while. I repeatedly advised Andee throughout our bonding session to take care of the kit; the fact that everything came in a nice little bucket should lessen then chance of her scattering everything around the house. Good thing that at six years old, she’s gotten a teenie-weenie bit more responsible.
The next gift challenge – Christmas.
(Photo above is of Andee and my newest nephew Huan.)