He sits back and observes for a good long while; then turns the object over and over and tries it out. He tries it out until he learns all he possibly can hands-on about how it works. The mechanical parts are of course the main focus.
Then he jumps onto the Internet and proceeds to stuff his brain with every tidbit of information available on the subject. Especially when it comes to toys. Product reviews, videos on the company’s website, related products and playsets, all the while telling us who in his Kindergarten class has which version and what that specific model can or can’t do and which one he needs to buy next.
And so it was with the Zhu Zhu toy hamsters, or rather, the Kung Zhu hamsters to begin. Tau saved up his own money and bought Rock-O, a Kung Zhu Battle Hamster. Yes, battle hamster. You can purchase related battle armor, battle arenas, battle weapons, battle vehicles and novice hamster-training dojos. Battle, battle, battle.
We learned how Rock-O scuttled along, turned around and battled inanimate objects like shoes, matchbox cars and Lego — in the absence of other toy hamsters you understand.
And then, after a week or two later, Tau told us that he wanted to “donate” Rock-O to some other kid that needed him. Apparently Rock-O made too much noise in Tau’s bed and freaked him out while he was trying to fall asleep. He finally opted to give Rock-O to his friend Talan.
“Are you SURE you want to give him away? You won’t be able to get him back. Ever.”
“I don’t want him anymore — he BOTHERS me.”
So we gave Rock-O to Talan, who loves him, and returned to our fascination with all things Lego and Hot Wheels.
Then just after Christmas, we visited the family of Tau’s friend Isabella, and Isabella has a whole family of Zhu Zhu Pets. She has a handful of hamsters, various interlocking habitats, hamster outfits, a hamster car, and a stroller in which the mommy hamster can push her babies. Sigh.
And so it started when we got home.
“But Tau, your last hamster ‘bothered’ you with all his noises.”
“Zhu Zhu Pets are not as noisy as Kung Zhu Pets.”
If you’re a parent you know that whether he was right or wrong on that isn’t the point, and that no amount of reason comes in to play when a five-year-old boy has his eye on a toy.
Eventually, Tau bought Winkie, a very sweet boy Zhu Zhu Pet, and I have to admit that he is not nearly as loud as Rock-O.
Tau also had enough money saved up to get a hamstermobile and a garage. Yes, Winkie the hamster drives his own car out of a plastic garage and around our house. The ridiculousness of this is not lost on Dave and I, trust me.
Right now (bliss!) Tau is out of money, so the requests for additional hamsters fall on deaf ears. They cost around $10 each. Not defeated, he tried a new tack the other day:
“Mom, I’m going to give you three Zhu Zhu pets for your birthday!”
“You know I don’t play with Zhu Zhu Pets, right? So why would you give them to me for my birthday?”
“If I bought you three, we could play with them together. If I buy you three, though, I will need …” pauses for a moment, ” … thirty. I will need thirty dollars to buy them.”
Oh joy. The child can multiply. Our private Kindergarten dollars are paying off.
He is an artful persuader, my son. Sitting on the kitchen counter the other day, stroking his hamster, he gently pressed Winkie’s nose, which elicited a soft chortly purr.
“Oh … that’s the noise he makes when he’s lonely, Mom. When he feels like he wants another hamster to play with.”