When we were young my brothers had this toy tank that made noises. It had one that sorta sounded like a machine gun, another like an explosion. Which is annoying enough. I hate toys that make noise. But this toy creeped us out because it had no batteries. Just an empty hole where the battery door had long ago been ripped off. We said it was possessed.
But at least it only made noise when you pushed the button. Mom 101 has an entry about toys that make noise on their own, that ask, no demand, to be picked up.
But now at last, I understand.
I get it.
There should be an Isle of Misfit Toys. Because there are some toys that don’t deserve your love.
I first noticed it a few weeks ago when I was visiting my brother. He pointed out a little electronic keyboard toy of his daughter’s that—get this—reminds you to play it. If you have stopped for a while, it admonishes, TIME TO PLAY THE PIANO!
Just like a mother calling time to wash up for dinner, or time to do your math homework, your child hears TIME TO PLAY THE PIANO. The voice is childlike and friendly, of course, but almost frighteningly upbeat. Not quite like a Stepford Wife; more like a preadolescent Tatum O’Neil after getting into her parent’s cocaine stash. She’s excited. She’s eager. She doesn’t realize how hard she’s squeezing your arm as she pulls you into the second floor music room repeating, TIME TO PLAY THE PIANO.
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I started to think, what is with all these needy toys? Toys that ask—nay, demand—that you play with them? My brother’s keyboard toy doesn’t ask you in that polite sort of British way, “would you mind, I mean, if you’re not really doing anything else…you know, just sort of (aw shucks) take a moment and play with me? ” It implores you to play. Insists that you play. Or…or….or else. It’s not normal.
She tells the funniest story about a drum:
At first Thalia amused herself with it, happy enough to strike the drum and hear the synsthesized snare sound it played in response. But she’s just a year old. After a brief spell the drum became less interesting than, say, the cat. Or a book. Or the petrified Cheerio that’s been hiding amongst the dust bunnies under the couch for six weeks.
She tossed the drum aside.
That’s when we heard the haunting chorus for the first time.
PLAY THE DRUM, EVERYONE PLAY THE DRUM.
And then again. PLAY THE DRUM EVERYONE, PLAY THE DRUM.
Finally, just one more eerie melodic warning before knocking glasses off our shelves and mysteriously slamming our windows shut: PLAY THE DRUM EVERYONE, PLAY THE DRUM.
There are children in there, I tell you. Zombie children. Drum-playing freaky needy zombie children that want the world’s toddlers to bend to their will. They will repeat this mantra over. And over. And over. Until you have no choice but to succumb to the percussive temptation. They do not want you to learn the alphabet or how to count to ten. They don’t want you to eat or sleep, to kiss your mama or pet your dog. They just want you to hit that drum at any expense.
Children of the Drum.
And then after the third warning, like they never existed, the voices are gone.
And the house is quiet.
Too quiet if you ask me.
Follow this up with a hilarious story about a lion from Mom’s Daily Dose.
Or maybe it’s not so funny. Now I’m really afraid. I just couldn’t sleep with something like that in the house. I’d be thinking of The Shining. And I have bad enough insomnia without worrying about the evil toys coming to get me. Not to mention my migraines. How do you deal when the toy cell phone keeps ringing and the toddler doesn’t understand “Mommy’s got a headache”?
And as the comments on these two entries show, it’s not enough just to avoid buying these toys. Because there are always presents from well-meaning (or sometimes even evil-minded) friends and relations.
Dom says we can just not put in the batteries, Bella won’t know any better. But some of them come with batteries pre-installed. And what about when she gets older and does realize it’s supposed to talk? Or sing?
I suppose the toys can always have an “accident”. Get washed. Left in the driveway and run over. But I’d feel guilty every time I saw the giver. And suspect that somehow They Know.
And giving them to the Christmas toy drive? I’d feel guilty about inflicting it on some unsuspecting mother who has to work two jobs to make ends meet and then listen to creepy Elmo calling from some dark corner of the house: “Elmo want to play….play airplane with Elmo.” at 2 am.
Please, take pity on me. Buy her books. Or clothes. Or old-fashioned stuffed animals that just sit there. Not the migraine-inspiring ones that sing and dance.
And certainly not this one.
Blocks are always fun.