“I’m about five seconds away from taking one of his toy golf clubs and smashing that F****** thing into a million pieces!”
This is what I was told as I sleepily emerged from our bedroom on a recent Saturday morning—my day to sleep in. What did my husband want to smash, you wonder? Well, Man’s electronic book that lights up and sings nursery rhymes, of course.
It seems like all toys play music and have flashing lights these days. We go through am industrial-sized package of batteries each week just to enable their continued function. I feel badly for the children who had to (gasp) play with wooden toys or (God forbid) run around outside with each other—you know, before the days of electricity and child-friendly iPad apps. Every toy we own, whether bought by us or received as a gift, somehow has a song-and-light show to help entertain Man. These songs are supposed to be catchy; whether you like it or not, they become embedded in your psyche and you find yourself humming them as you stroll through the aisles in the grocery store.
One night my husband sweetly tried to seduce me doing what he thought was a “sexy” dance set to music that he was singing. “Wait, I recognize that song,” I said, immediately realizing that it wasn’t Barry White he was singing. Even through my tired haze I realized he was humming the song the tiger makes on Man’s exersaucer. “I had no idea; it just sort of came out,” he said, embarrassed. Needless to say, it killed the mood for both of us right then and there.
Just last week I found my mom sitting on my couch, thumbing through a magazine while humming a tune from one of the Fisher Price toys. “Why are you singing, “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain When She Comes?” I asked. Of course, she hadn’t even realized she was doing it.
Toys are now designed to captivate our children with flashing lights, relieving us parents of our need to actually to entertain the kids ourselves. It gives them an early start on a sedentary lifestyle consumed by television and video games. But if the traditional light-up toy is like a nice wine, the iPad is crack cocaine. I try to avoid it, but that rattle app in particular will keep a child entertained for hours (while slowly draining brain cells and ensuring the future mediocrity of his generation). I know if I just can’t handle entertaining him anymore, the app will. It sings, has animal noises and flashing lights. It responds to his touch.
Sometimes when cleaning up I’ll mistakenly hit one of the toys and they’ll all start playing at the same time. It’s a toddler’s casino, a symphony of nursery rhymes, jingles, talking animals, and flashing lights. They feed off of each other, one being louder and more obnoxious than the rest; almost like a competition to see which one can annoy me the most. It’s in those moments that I reiterate my husband’s earlier sentiments and it takes all my efforts not to just smash each and every one of them.
Even when our children are supposed to be snuggled soundly in their cribs, there are still billions of dollars’ worth of contraptions sold to help lull them to sleep. What do these toys do to ease our babies to into the REM zone? They light up and play music, of course (more godforsaken nursery rhymes.) At one point we had to remove all of these devices from Man’s crib since we would hear him turn them on and start playing at 3AM instead of sleeping. Honestly, I would much rather be ripped from a deep sleep by crying then by the sound of one of those damn toys!!
I can’t wait for the day when Man grows out of these toys. Of course, by the time he leaves the plastic noisemakers behind, he’ll be moving onto video games. I’m strongly considering being the “mean mommy” that does not allow such games inside my house. Man will hate me for it, but at least my husband won’t try to seduce me with the music from Grand Theft Auto.