Playing house

John has a three year old nephew who we both like to spoil.

We tend to try out all the gifts before giving them to him - purely for safety reasons you understand.

The little one is coming up to visit us next weekend so naturally we ended up in a toy store yesterday, just to make sure we hadn't missed anything new that may hit the toy market in the last few weeks.

While we were there I took the chance to check out my old favourite - Barbie - and discovered she's chosen to go under the knife instead of remaining a timeless beauty.

Her face is totally different these days. In fact it's quite similar to Sindy now - remember her, Barbie's less glamourous rival?

On the upside Sylvanian Families are just the same. Cheery little forest friends dressed in dungarees and shirts. I just love them. So much so that I had to take the beaver family home.

However the thing that struck me the most during my several hours of toy examination was the amount of miniature household products.

I saw hoovers, brushes and pans, washing machines and ironing boards- all of them apparently geared toward the girl market decorated as they were in lovely shades of pink and yellow.

During the ten minutes we queued for the till I saw two men who, in separate purchases, bought an ironing board and a hoover.

I'll be honest. If someone had given me a toy ironing board when I was small I would have been very very disappointed. If John tried to give it to me now... well it'd be the last gift he'd give me.

I don't understand it. Where's the fun in pushing a fake hoover around the place and why would you want to start your child on what will be a long life of housework earlier than they have to?
Of course if they're that keen to clean surely giving them some dusters and actually setting them to work around the house would be a better idea?

Obviously there's a market for the toys or else I stumbled across the two fathers in Dublin who were preparing their daughters for a lifetime of thoughtless presents.

I did try to find a blue or camouflage hoover that might appeal to my adopted nephew but funnily enough there was none to be found ....