Warning: This post is a joke. It was written after waking up one night and accidentally tripping over a toy puppy that sings, which then started singing and woke up the baby. She saw the toy singing and immediately thought it was time to play. These toys have saved us several times on long car trips. We rotate Critter’s toys to keep a few great toys fresh for a long time. However, I’m pretty sure every new parent has gone through the stage where they wanted to throw a singing, dancing toy off a cliff.
They started arriving the minute I announced I was pregnant. Bright colored, flashy, and ostensibly educational. If you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about: learning toys.
I was so excited to let her play with the first one. It would keep her entertained on car trips, and according to the packaging, it could help her learn numbers. Shaped like a mouse holding a slice of cheese, we uncreatively dubbed it “cheese mouse.”
Cheese mouse was innocent at first. The baby loved him, and would coo along to his chirpy song. I thought nothing of his incessant presence, until I realized that the song I was humming wasn’t some indie ballad or folksy love song. It was Cheese Mouse’s ditty about owning cheese. I brushed it off. The first few months of parenthood lets you blur the lines between normal human behavior and that of a sleep deprived zombie.
The baby started sleeping better, and things got better. She was also getting more active and engaged with the world, which could only mean one thing: more gifts of “learning” toys. She still loved Cheese Mouse, her constant companion on long road trips. Although I had briefly contemplated throwing him into a bay we were crossing over because the baby was asleep, nothing had touched him in ten minutes, and he was STILL singing, we had acclimated to his grating presence.
We got a double whammy for Christmas, when childless friends got us an educational puppy dog with three learning stages and another couple got us a trilingual octopus by Baby Einstein. Both of them entertained the baby for hours, even more so as she’s grown and figured out how to press buttons instead of beating her poor plush toys against the ground in some kind of Baby WWE throw down.
Both of them also woke me up threateningly in the middle of the night. The dog quietly chanted the ABC’s from the corner of the bedroom, while the Baby Einstein octopus screamed the colors in French from its location beneath the Pack and Play.
Don’t think I’m solely blaming my friends, especially those without children, for this. I’m personally guilty of buying a See and Say, a table that speaks English and Spanish, and several high tech toys. I mean, I’ve got a high tech rocking horse for Critter. Who needs a high tech rocking horse? Apparently I thought my baby did. (I was wrong.) The blame falls equally on myself and others, parents and non-parents. No, the blame falls squarely upon toy companies whose products could survive a nuclear blast, still perkily letting you know that you should always wash behind your ears.
Listen, I’ve left some of these toys on for months, hoping the battery will die, so next time the baby is looking for it, it will just be a normal toy. You know, the kind that doesn’t sing. The batteries in these toys are apparently indestructible. Anyone looking for the future of sustainable energy should really get in touch with these toy companies.
How do you know your child’s learning toy collection has become a problem? The other day, my dad sat down on an ottoman that doubles as a toy box. Immediately, at least three or four toys started trying to interact with him. I don’t even remember turning some of those toys on. I don’t even remember buying some of those toys, which leads me to the conclusion that they’re using the seclusion of the toy box to reproduce.
It will all be worth it in the end, though. When my baby is a genius, far smarter and more advanced than other babies, I can blame it all on the trilingual octopus. Or so the packaging claims.