Whilst meandering through the aspirational section of Gloucester's ToysWeSell (note the inverted 'W'), I was struck by the number of dressing up opportunities for the modern child. Apart from aliens and, to me, scary monsters (Frankenstein's zombie is even more terrifying when only 3 feet tall), it was the vocational outfits that seemed more interesting to my boy.
He pawed through various guises of doctor, police officer, nurse, builder, plumber,sailor, firefighter and farmer, all designed to give him a taste of what could be in his future.
Even the pirate costume made for an interesting career possibility, although it was a traditional swashbuckler with jaunty cap and neckerchief, rather than a more realistic Somalian with an RPG.
"Look," I said, holding up a Spiderperson ensemble and some sort of man/bat hybrid.
"Oh yes." replied my son, half-heartedly humouring me, before returning to study the intricacies of a chef's outfit.
I suppose this is because, at their tender age, a job is as far out a possibility as being a werewolf or a witch, so the costumes based on reality are just as exotic as those based on make-believe.
(Eventually, after profound and deep thoughts on the possibilities of shaping ones future through association, my son demonstrated his considerable grip on reality by deciding to be 'a ladybird'.)
There were even workplaces you could buy, such as plastic kitchens for the future chef, workshops for the potential engineer, laboratories for the wannabe scientist, engines for tomorrows mechanic and . . .
"What did you learn today, son?"
"Burger flipping and a lazy way to spell 'through'. "
There is a tiny chance that this comes across as a bit snobby, and I would like to point out that, having been a burger flipper myself (and actually rather enjoyed the piss-poor life experience that it was), I feel I'm well within my rights to get all hoity-toity about this.
To be honest, a lot of the extravagant gifts you can get for your child seem a bit pointless to me, especially the ones that are basically toy buildings. Seeing as how all-consuming and complete their imaginations are at that age, you might as well throw a tarp over an old tent frame and that'll suffice as just about any structure their current universe requires.
Every time I come out of one of those toy emporiums having not bought something, I have the very odd feeling that my child has benefited somehow.
Not sure what their sales force would make of that oddly warped mindset.
We did consider buying some colourful plastic tat for my daughter, who is now a whole year old and has discovered the joys of lobbing things around.
Happily for her, we realised we didn't need to buy anything new for her to throw, because our naively positioned CD collection makes for excellent ammunition:
In my defence, the Terence Trent Derby CD is the missusses.
*Wanders off, humming "sign your name across mah heart . . ."*