Matt Zalaznick: Vail Valley big boxes come through for the little ones |

Matt Zalaznick: Vail Valley big boxes come through for the little ones

Matt Zalaznick
Vail CO, Colorado

What to do indoors with toddlers? You can only make so many Play-Doh swine-flu viruses to chase the kids up and down the hall with.

OK, I understand we like the small-town character here in the Vail Valley, but this is where a big-box store comes in really handy, and around here, that’s The Home Depot, Wal-Mart and, best of all, Costco.

On the first Saturday of every month, The Home Depot has free arts and crafts. The massive corporation supplies free kits ” race cars, birdhouses, flower planters ” and the kids can build them right there in the store.

The young ones, who aren’t yet into building, can explore. It’s amazing how mesmerized a 1-year-old is by washing machines, rows of power tools and plumbing supplies. Of course, you should probably do some calisthenics before you go because you’ll be doing a lot of bending over to pick up all the gaskets, batteries and chain saws the toddler takes off the shelf and throws on the floor.

At Costco, a toddler can not only run around like a lunatic and throw things off shelves, but a toddler can stop for all the free toddler-size food samples ” ice cream, fruit, pasta, hash browns, smoked salmon, discount tequila. Holy cow. It’s sort of like Disney World.

And then there are DVDs and


“Experts” say toddlers should never ever watch TV. In fact, according to a report from the Zurich-based Institute for the Patronizing of Parents, a child’s chances of getting into Harvard decrease by 4.2 percent for every five minutes of “Dora The Explorer” they watch. That figure increases to 10 percent for every two minutes of “SpongeBob SquarePants.” And may the combined spirit of Montessori and Baby Einstein damn you if you actually let your child watch an entire movie, such as “Cars,” “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo,” “A Clockwork Orange” or “Scarface.”

But those experts are probably sitting smugly on exercise balls in some cold, sparse laboratory a zillion miles away, eating a raw diet, studying the correlation between juvenile delinquency and parents who have Facebook pages.

But they don’t have to do our dishes or sweep our floors or fold our laundry or straighten our hall closets or take out our garbage or put new batteries in every toy or pull out the popsicle sticks clogging our garbage disposals or update our Facebook statuses (statusi? statusum? statuzoa?) or download music on illegal file-sharing sites whose owners were recently sent to jail.

Hey, maybe the experts could take a break from telling us how we’re ruining our children’s chances of ever playing lead flugelhorn in the local philharmonic and could entertain the kids while we get all that house stuff done so, once the kids are in bed, we can get back to updating our Facebook statusoids and illegal file sharing ” and Tweeting about updating our Facebook stasusoirum and illegal file sharing.

Movies and cartoons can be a godsend. But one piece of advice, and this is something I think those experts should study: Why do so many kids’ movies start out with a parent being murdered or blown up or a child being kidnapped? What’s with that? I’m talking to you “Finding Nemo,” “Bambi,” “The Lion King,” “Madagascar 2”!

All that does is freak the kids out so they come running and screaming, making you feel ashamed you weren’t teaching them Spanish or Japanese or calculus and guilting you into updating your Facebook status thus:

“Matt Zalaznick just irreparably damaged his kids. Look for them in about 15 years cleaning bathrooms at the I-70 rest stop in Parachute, Colo. They’ll be the ones mumbling ‘Shrek’ dialogue to themselves.”

Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at or 970-748-2926.

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