Thursday, August 6, 2009

No batteries required

I've been friends with MIT Mommy since we were just teenagers, living in the same dorm and doing our homework (and getting into trouble) together.

I'm a toy designer (technically, director of engineering for a small toy company). Many of our toys are technology-based, which means that the games do cool things using sounds and interactivity, or that they include lights and speakers and cameras and other cool techie features. I'm proud of the work I do, and when we get it right, the toys are cool and very fun. When we really get it right, they enhance that imaginary world that children inhabit.

Now I have my own toy tester (J) at home. He's almost three, and it's interesting to see how he interacts with the things we create. Over the past few months, he's tested a lot of toys for me. He really liked the zoo animals and the construction trucks, and he loves anything that lights up.
Nothing has given him as much joy as this pair of rain boots.

J goes to preschool just a half-block away from our house. I walk him to school in the morning on my way to catch the train to SF, and I pick him up again after work. During the rainy season, the gutter fills with water runing down our hill, and the resulting river is too tempting for all the little ones leaving school. One day, J already had his boots on, so he started splashing.
Another child joined him. One slightly germ phobic 4-year-old anxiously warned us about the "anebas that will get in your brain." The next day, there were more. By the end of the week, I was met at the front door by a barrage of kids asking if they could come splash in the puddles with J.

I imagined the other parents seething as they poured water out of boots and loaded cold, wet children into their car seats.

Then I got out my camera and started taking pictures.

As a parent, I sometimes get too worried about the wet and the cold and the "anebas." As toy designers, we try to ask ourselves, "is it fun?" The photos tell the truth. This is just plain, boot-stomping fun.

No batteries required.

A note from MIT Mommy:

I should be back from my trip today. I want to thank everyone who has blogged for me. I am writing this the day before I leave and I'm already anxious to see what is on my blog!

When I received the above post from my 'MIT buddy' I just about fell out of my chair laughing. She is an amazing designer, and who better to realize that sometimes the best designs are no designs at all. How beautifully ironic that her son would be enamoured by a pair of boots!

She also is the creative genius behind the gear kids at the top of this blog. And, if you would like to see more of her ongoing work, she and her colleague have a eco-friendly design blog out in SF.

Thanks again to all of you who blogged, and all of you who read and commented on their labors.
I'll have a lot of catching up to do!
MIT Mommy


Working Glass Gal said...

How sweet that you featured my post on my birthday (the one I share with your first born). This makes me feel very special and loved, which as all of your readers know, is something you do exceptionally well. Love, K

Flea said...

I LOVE the photos! Such joy! My kids all had more fun in puddles than anything.

Or we'd visit family and go lots of places, but their favorite thing was bumping down the stairs and chasing the cat. Climbing a tree at home.

As long as they're not putting dirt and crayons into the gas tank of the push mower, their creativity is a good thing.

AreWeThereYet? said...

SWEET! Reminds me of watching my kids bond with some long, nearly-lost relatives. Their game of choice -- rolling down a grassy hill like a pencil.

Angela said...

That is so cool that Katie works for a toy company!! That was my dream going to MIT and majoring in Mechanical Engineering. What a cool site they have.

Of course my kids love the cardboard box the best of all. Especially ones they can color and sit in to blast off into space.

IBM Laptop Battery said...

Awww! That's awfully sweeet! I can't say that I would have done anything more different! :) The way you say things just makes me smile waiting to see what else you write about! But, I have to admit you're quite the tough cookie dealing with situations the write way, which is a major plus. Hey, I guess that's just how I see it. Myself, having quite the big family can get a bit hectic at times with the discipline aspect of things. But, never the less everything always works out towards the end of things and we all have are smiles on