Thursday, October 11, 2007

Toys From the Dark Side

It was inevitable, really.

While I’ve touched on my feelings about the state of children’s playthings today, it never really hit home until a truly diabolical toy reared its ugly head in our daughter’s toy chest.

Last week, I ordered a second high chair and playpen (aka Baby Jail) for use at Mr. DD's parent’s home from one of many fairly anonymous internet baby retail sites that litter the web that all operate under one principle; there’s good money to be made from people who have no idea what they’re doing. When these items arrived, it appeared that we’d picked up a stray from someone else’s order because along with the Baby Jail and the high chair, there also appeared an excersaucer. I had considered buying one of these things for the Prawn, but had always slightly feared the amount of space that one of these things would take up in our apartment which is already filled to bursting with baby gear.

I considered returning the item. Since my Father In Law had paid for the purchase, I wanted to be sure that his credit card hadn’t been charged for something we didn’t order in the first place. But once we discovered that it hadn’t, I was inclined to keep it. Otherwise, I just knew I was going to get stuck with a courier charge to send the damn thing back where it came from, so I sucked up my vague moral compunctions and brought the damn thing home where it started racking up points against it right from the getgo.

First of all, it is in the shape of a pink sports car which is so icky that I can’t even begin to describe it. But, noted my inner voice, you didn’t actually pay for this, so it’s probably slightly ungrateful to bitch that it makes your daughter look like a very small Malibu Barbie home for spring break. Fair enough, inner voice.

Secondly, I’m not 100% sure that it wasn’t put together by little slave children somewhere. But, piped up my inner voice again, you didn’t actually PAY for this, so none of your money has gone to factories in China and Taiwan that make 10 year olds sew soccer balls with their teeth. Good point, inner voice. No money of mine to the slave trade.

Thirdly, and this was the deal breaker….it makes noise. At this point, my inner voice had little to say other than, Will you shut that fucking thing up already?

Mr. DD and I made a pact early on in parenthood that we would avoid toys that made unnecessarily irritating electronic noises. In a world with Mozart and crickets, it is a wonder to me that grating midi music was ever invented. We had been to too many homes with a plethora of these obnoxious playthings and have always been determined never to let these instruments of Satan into the Prawn’s life. (Okay, I accidentally bought that set of stacking rings that not only make noise, but revolve as well, but thankfully, the music is of good quality and fairly innocuous.)

In this excersaucer’s case, it was the “dashboard” of the chav-tastic pink sports car that was the offender. Three benign looking buttons transformed our living room into a hellish reverberating chamber for the most nerve plucking midi horror at the most ridiculous volume that we could have imagined.

“Erm, why don’t you give that back to me a sec?” said Mr. DD, snatching the dashboard from under the gleeful hands of the Prawn and heading for the sideboard to find a screwdriver. I personally was all for smashing the offending piece of kit, but thankfully, Mr. DD has a basic knowledge of electronics and with a judicious wire yank, disabled the noise making device, leaving only the flashing lights and the rather more organic clicking sounds made by the “steering wheel” and the “gearshift”.

As I write the Prawn is enthusiastically gumming her new toy and smiling at me as if to say, “Don’t worry, Mummy. I won’t let the crass materialism that this pink sports wagon represents corrupt my malleable mind. Thanks to your wise instruction, I shall grow to be both virtuous and non-materialistic, dedicating my time to charity and my fellow man.”

She’s yanking your chain, says my inner voice.

I know, I reply.


Becky said...

Both of my children adore(d) the Exersaucer. It's like baby crack for some reason. Thankfully mine only makes noise out of ONE of the approx 15,000 toys it has on it, but I was amazed, Alex easily navigates toward it. And it plays CARNIVAL music. AAAHHH!!!

E-lease on Life said...

I read this with the biggest of smiles on my face. All toys with noise makers get electrical tape place carefully over their speakers...if only I knew which wire to pull.