My prayers last night included a special shout out to Lauri Toys for the incomparable, parental face-saving grace packaged compactly and advertised as the unassuming “Toddler Tote.” You may remember my fears from earlier last week over traveling with toddler. You have no idea how many horrors an overactive imagination like mine can conjure to fill a single airplane cabin over a six-hour flight (kicking, screaming, puking, pooping, hitting, punching, crying, whining, scratching, nose-picking, and I’m just getting started.) As it turns out, on the scale from 1 (manageable) to 10 (full-blown, gut-twisting, Terrible Twos), I’d say we landed around a 1.5. The imagined nightmares that came true (kicking, crying, hitting, and pooping) were roundly ignored.
(Sidenote: Yes. I let my precious Little Friend sit in poopy pants for six hours. Before you judge, why don’t you mentally picture changing diapers in an airplane bathroom. Personally, I can barely manage to wriggle my own pants to my knees without stabbing an elbow or forehead into the soap-scummed sink.)
Lauri’s Toddler Tote saved the travel day. The Toddler Tote, a box bursting with inviting opportunities for creative play, contains a number of stiff foam shapes, puzzles, and plastic pegs begging to be assembled, unassembled, whacked, swiped, popped, and clicked by little hands just learning to mold the world around them. I had first found The Toddler Tote last winter when shopping for my nephew’s Christmas present at Shadyside Variety Store. I liked the concept and product so much, my covetous little heart kept the Toddler Tote for Little Friend and squirreled it away until she was old enough to manipulate the pieces.
I love toys that encourage creative play. Our minds are so easily saturated with passive play (watching cartoons with predictably scripted plots or dressing dolls with outfits from the trademarked movies that birthed them), it’s refreshing to come across a toy that leaves some blanks unfilled. Little Friend is at an age where simply sliding the airplane window shade up and down (and up and down and up and down and up and down and just pick one for the love of all that’s holy!) ranks highly on her list of favorite games. The Toddler Tote gives young minds the opportunity to create a sequence of events (putting peg in hole, for example) and then doing it over and over.
The Toddler Tote grows with kids. Sure, right now it’s as simple as clicking pegs together or grabbing the dog cut out from the dog puzzle and barking (or panting, a sound synonymous with barking in Little Friend’s mind). But I can see the multitudinous possibilities the Toddler Tote will offer as Little Friend gets older (and hopefully wiser, substituting, dare I hope, actual “woof” sounds for the panting.) Through manipulating the pieces of The Toddler Tote, little tykes can practice colors, puzzles of various difficulties, counting, and shapes. I consider the Toddler Tote Preschool 101 in a box.
Now here’s the part that’s surely too good to be true: Lauri’s Toddler Tote packaging offers up the pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming promise: “Lauri Replaces Lost Pieces.” I haven’t tried this promise out just yet, but I think a green peg may have rolled to the vicinity of seat 22F on take off, so I should be able to report back soon. With an offer like that, you just know this is one company that knows kids.
Any toy that earns me twenty minute’s reprieve from policing the unmerited pounding Little Friend feels she must bestow on the seat in front of her is a toy that earns a place of honor in my toy box. Lauri’s Toddler Tote is a must have for those times when quiet is the rule (restaurants, airplanes, and long car rides, for sure.) Consider the Toddler Tote brain food for the toddler and soul balm for the parent. So thank you, Lord, for chocolate, dishwashers, naptime, the $5 bill found in an old pair of shorts, and most of all, for Lauri’s Toddler Tote.
While you’ll be tempted to create your own play with Lauri’s Toddler Tote, try to tear yourself away long enough to gift a fortunate parent (I mean kid) at upcoming birthday parties, baby showers, or holidays. As an added bonus, the foam pieces are so light, the Tote barely adds a smidge of weight to that bulging airplane carry-on bag.