It was my son’s third birthday last week. The party was a separate entity altogether, a monster that had taken over my partner’s life and smothered her humour in a light but sweet, sweet dusting of icing for a Gruffulo cake that she had been perfecting through four days and three attempts. It was her own fault really. She made the textbook error of asking Harry what sort of party cake he would like.
‘A Gruffulo party?’ we asked hopefully. But then, when we might have escaped, added, ‘Or a Gruffulo cake and a Gruffulo party?’
His little eyes lit up, like the teenager’s first understanding that it’s not how you dance, it’s the fact you’re dancing at all that counts. So cake AND party it was. The party bit was ok, there are loads of sites selling Gruffulmiscellania. As it happens there is also a recipe for a Gruffulo cake on the Guardian website. It looked so easy. But then isn’t that what the indiginous people of North America said as they saw three poorly rowed boats humping through the surf towards the beach? But that’s a different story. First we had the actual birthday.
Big Birthday Presents
We’d asked him what he wanted here as well. I know, I know, well, you live and learn, if you’re lucky. ‘Big presents,’ he said.
We added this firm in the knowledge that his realm of knowledge only really expanded to Toy Story in one direction and colouring pencils in the other. It didn’t really matter as his answer was not massively helpful.
‘Another big present,’ was his thoughtful reply.
Anyway, the first big present was a Little Tikes Anniversary Edition Cozy Coupe Ride-On car. It’s a big old title and has something to do with the fact that this toy is now 30 years old apparently. I can see why. When Harry first unwrapped it (basically pulled the blanket off as there was no way I was spending 25 minutes wrapping it in Postman Pat paper for Harry to shred it in 1.43 seconds) his face lit up.
‘Wow!’ he said and smiled like the cat who got the cream, stole the jog, sold the jug for an exorbitant price and then went and bought some more cream with it.
It is a fabulous toy and one that goes against a great deal of understanding about what makes kids love certain toys. It’s a little car, all pretty easy so far, and there are lovely touches such as the removeable petrol cap, the horn, the ignition key which turns and rattles. The door which opens, closes and even locks is a lovely touch. Other than that your child puts their feet through the bottom of the detachable floor and then they move about whilst gripping the wheel. It’s not as though they go fast (such as on his scooter), or even that it’s easier than walking, but somehow the kids love it. Our biggest problem on his birthday was prising our 14 month old daughter away from it long enough for Harry to avoid clunking her over the head with his Buzz Lightyear. Again. For reference the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe can be used with younger kids, such as our Caitlin for the detachable floor merely clicks in beneath the seat and viola! younger ones are enclosed in the cabin with no fear of dragging their legs on the floor. You have to push them but let’s face it kids aren’t generally averse to parents running around after them.
Three days later at Gruffulogate it went down a storm with kids from 14 months to 4 all wanting to get in on the act. To be fair my eldest son Tom wanted a go but as he’s 5 in the body of an 8 year old it was a pipe dream. It’s solid, really attractive and sturdy enough to be used exclusively outside.
This is not a cheap present coming in at around 45 pounds. But we are really happy with it and we’re convinced that it’s something Harry will love for the next year or so, and Caitlin for two more after that. Now that’s a good return in my book. One thing I would say is that you need to give yourself time to assemble the sod. I opened it the day before his birthday, assuming that four large plastic pieces would be accompanied by about 10 bolts and a few fiddly, nobbly bits. Once opened I re-checked the box, convinced that I had accidentally bought the screws and rivets for an exact scale replica of the Golden Gate bridge. It took me 2 hours and three cups of tea. Give yourself time and space. Do not, DO NOT, open it on the morning hoping to say, ‘You just read your new book on Skyscrapers in Malaysia from Aunt Holly and I’ll throw this together for us!’ It’ll end in tears.
It’s a fab ‘big present’ and your kids’ll love it for years. It was certainly a success on the day and, good news, three days later he looked at the cake, his eyes lit up, and he squeaked ‘It’s a Gruffulo,’ with a look of pure pleasure. It lasted 13 minutes until he and his mates had demolished the whole bally thing. A well spent 15 hours practice? Definitely.