Sometime back we were given a set of two way radios for our boys. Our eldest was always using surrogate radios to communicate with the ‘Fire Station’ and the youngest would use almost anything as a phone to talk to nobody in particular about very important nothings. We figured it would be a win win gift.
But as it turned out, the radios weren’t that big of a hit with either of the boys. I’m not sure why though, perhaps the toy removed some of the mystery for them and in so doing made the toy less desirable, more pointless. Perhaps they were just that little bit too young and didn’t get it. Perhaps their imagination needed less detail, not more, to function properly. Whatever the case, the radios are in a drawer, un-played, silent.
We follow a reward chart system to help motivate the boys to repeat good/positive behavior. So five or ten stars for doing the same thing like cleaning a room by tidying up toys, getting ready for school unassisted, sharing toys without being asked to would result in a reward of some kind. We used this system to potty train our eldest and it worked like a charm.
He filled his chart again a few days ago and we gave him a fireman jacket and hat complete with accessories like an axe, fire extinguisher, fire hose and a radio which only has one button that only does one thing and that is to play the same dreadful and monotonous Chinese elevator music tune, with absolutely no bass, at three or more volume levels above what would have been considered comfortable or bearable. And I’m being kind.
As it turned out, that toy immediately became the most popular toy in the history of all toys and as such, both boys wanted to play with the awful thing all day every day. It was actually guaranteed to cause tears, hair pulling and rugby tackles every moment that it was in the general population. So we did what any frazzled parent might do in the same situation, we gave our youngest a star on his chart for being cute and then bought him the exact same outfit. We are not above a little fudging of the facts or competition rigging in the pursuit of peace. Immediately they both started playing with their ‘radios’ together and household harmony was more or less restored. A side effect of this harmony was a cacophony of sound produced by the two radio’s that would have disturbed the dead. But at least there was no more fighting.
There is something to be said for the old fashioned makeshift radio we made as kids which used two tin cups joined together by a piece of string. It had so many plusses; easily made and repaired, needed two kids to play with it so sharing was implied, the longer the string was the further away the radio operators had to be from each other which was perfect if you were prone to fighting with your sibling and finally it got the kids out of the house and into the garden which had one major plus for parents…
It was much, much quieter inside.