Thursday, August 18, 2011

Are Stack & Roll Cups the Rubik’s Cube for Babies?

The 1980s were my formidable years. I became a teenager, graduated from high school, and started college in that decade.  There are many silly things that we did in the 80s, like wearing a single silver glove, parachute pants, and very fluffy hair.  However, what I remember perhaps most vividly was just how much time the entire nation spent fiddling with a colorful but exceptionally vexing little cube measuring 2 ¼ inches per side.  Yes, the Rubik’s cube: 54 soul-crushing squares of red, yellow, white, blue, green, and orange. 

The amount of time, energy, and intellect that went into trying to manipulate those evil little squares into some semblance of structure created global chaos, leading to the recession, the Falklands crisis, and the Iran Hostages, to name a few.    We nearly lost the cold war because of the Rubik’s cube.  I think I probably spent the better part of an entire year trying to get from 2 sides to 3 sides….but every time I moved one square, another one moved out of place.  Just a few more moves….arrgghh! 

30 years later, I’m still pissed at that horrible cube! 

What’s all of this have to do with Jack, you ask?  Well, a few months ago my dad and step-mom came to town to visit us.  Jack was around 8 months old, and had pretty much outgrown his ‘baby’ toys.  You know, the cutesy little rattles and blinky things.  He was ready for a toy that would challenge his cunning smarts and laser-like focus.  So, gramps and grams are perusing the toy aisle in Target and stumble upon what seems to be among the best baby toys known to man (or at least the best baby toy known to Jack)—the Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Stack & Roll Cups.  They had no idea at the time, but for $10.99, they had purchased several months of a little baby’s happiness. 

He just sits there in the corner, stacking and unstacking them.  Stacking and unstacking.  Stacking and unstacking.  It’s just like us bigger kids did with the Rubik’s cube.  He’s trying to solve it, can’t quite figure it out, but can’t stop.  But, this little toy doesn’t stop there.  Unlike the Rubik’s Cube, which had two purposes—to play with and to chuck as far as you could into the lake when you could take no more—this toy has lots of other uses.  When he’s done stacking, he makes them into balls and rolls them around.  Then, he stands up and bangs them on the TV stand, scraping them back-and-forth to make a sound reminiscent of fingernails on a chalkboard (a sound that might otherwise go extinct as chalkboards go the way of the Commodore 64).  Then, he crawls around for awhile with a couple of the cups in his hands like little suction cups, and starts all over again.  He’s happy playing by himself or with his mom (me, not so much) for hours every day. 

As his one-year birthday is approaching, we’re already starting to get gifts in the mail from relatives from far away.  He already loves his new wagon and no doubt he’ll find tons of amusement in many other toys as he gets older.  Just as most of us grew out of the Rubik’s Cube, Jack will probably one day move on from those colorful stacking cups.  But, those cups are one of the few toys I’d like to put away into a ‘time capsule’ that will well-encapsulate this phase of Jack’s life.  Other items in that capsule will be the subjects of future posts (hint: there will be lots of snacks in there!  And the gown he wore home from the hospital).


  1. Looks like lots of fun. I find the simple toys like this are usually the favourites. (and bonus they don't take batteries)

  2. Jack has a smile that doesn't stop!