photos via my flickr. Imaginarte, Rua Oscar Freire, no. 48Brazil's version of the American mega store, Toys-R-Us, is called Ri Happy. Ri means laugh in Portuguese. And well, happy is happy (not in Portuguese but I think one can understand that English words are popular the world over). Anyway, Ri Happy (nee Laugh Happy) is the usual mega toy store. Barney, Backyardigans, Dora the Explorer, and lots of plastic, plastic, and more plastic. So much plastic, that a few years back when the store caught fire a good eight blocks away, the air oozed that melty caustic stinky stuff for weeks. I washed my hair and smelled chemical rubber. Eek. It makes you think that just maybe this stuff is not good for the environment, for you, and definitely not for your precious offspring.
However, I pride myself on being a balanced parent. Or at least I try too. So along with a little sugar here and there and a bit of toddler TV, I don't freak out over plastic, non-educational junk toys. Don't get me wrong, I would love to have only charming wooden objects, handmade dolls, and art supplies in the toy box. However Georgia wouldn't. Even so, as parents, we scheme and we plot. We divert our little one's attention to shops like Imaginarte. We take them to the art classes they offer. We ask Grandma to buy their birthday gifts there. We control their little destinies. And we Ri Happy. Laugh Happy (until they become teenagers).