January 15, 2007

Today was a Workplace holiday — no disrespect to MLK’s legacy, but for me this has always been one of those, “Wait, what do you mean there’s no mail today?” holidays; ditto President’s Day — and after Riley and I had watched a little Elmo, gone on a fruitless outing for a sled, and walked a skittering, careful path around our still-snowy neighborhood with the backpack carrier (which, now that Riley’s bigger and heavier: oy, as in oy, my fuckin’ back), we found ourselves mired in the late afternoon doldrums, the Long Dark Tea-Time of the Toddler Soul.

While he assessed and rejected a variety of distractions I offered and ultimately became thoroughly entranced with the Roomba Virtual Wall Unit (all I can guess is that the buttons look vaguely like the Lotto machine thingie at the grocery checkout line, and lord knows he loves to punch the everloving shit out of those), I decided to document some of Riley’s more awful toys, the ones that I hide in his closet until times of great despair and desperation.

First of all, the corn popper:


I call this the Corn Baller, because I can’t help it, and I’ve been watching a LOT of Arrested Development lately. It seemed like such a cute toy idea for his first birthday. And it is cute, sort of. At first. I mean, until he’s been pushing it for longer than 2.3 seconds, after which time the BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG of those balls “popping” kind of, ha ha, makes you feel like you’re going craaaaAAAAAZY.

The talking, singing dog:


My family bought this for Riley, because they are a vengeful lot who have not forgotten the Manic Panic hairdye stains I left on their towels in high school. This terrifying Fisher-Price plush hellhound giggles, sings, and chirps little phrases, depending on where it’s being touched (Inappropriate Contact Dog complete with rape whistle is a separate model). I can personally attest to the fact that if you throw this dog into a closet with great force, it will pause long enough for you to assume it’s turned off, then an unearthly giggle will float out from behind the closet door and a squeaky voice will accuse, “You got my nose!”

The talking, singing fridge magnets:


Another gift from my side of the family. Ah, I can still hear their diabolical laughter during the Christmas present-opening festivities this year.

This is a LeapFrog product that has various animal shapes that can be stuck together, and a plethora of things that can be pushed in order to produce noise. The animal shapes, when pushed, belch forth a hideously catchy tune that goes, “You made a match! Look what you’ve done! Something something something cow pig horse something SOUND! MOOOO (baaaa, neiiigh, ETC)!”

The whole nightmarish ensemble is meant to cling to the fridge, probably so you can whip up a nutritious dinner while Junior, handily distracted, stays out of your way.

Of course Riley loves it. OF COURSE.

The nostalgic Parker Brothers toy:


Here’s one from JB’s parents, who learned that Riley loves any kind of phone and so went to a Goodwill looking for a toy version — then gifted Riley with his very own Merlin Electronic Wizard. Once you flip the switch to On, the toy intones, “I AM MERLIN. SELECT GAME. SELECT GAME.” Merlin also has such witty repartee as “MERLIN WINS” and “MINDBENDER”. Riley is fond of the Music Machine setting on Merlin, I am fond of hiding Merlin in the bottom of his closet underneath the singing dog.

The wooden puzzle:


Another one from JB’s family (I think?). A nice wooden puzzle seems pleasant enough, doesn’t it? Sure it is, until you’ve stepped on one of those motherfucking shitass pieces of wood for the billionth time OW GODDAMMIT. That missing piece in the upper left? Is totally embedded in my right foot.

The “Pop Goes the Weasel” phobia-box:


(Don’t go freaking about the octopus, now. Octopuses = totally cool, unlike the monkey death box.)

I got this music box toy as a baby present when I was still pregnant and had to put on the fakiest smile of gratitude you ever saw because I swear to god I would have rather opened a box of live tarantulas than this box that requires you to turn a little crank while it plays its horrifying tune and the inevitable heart-stopping conclusion grows ever closer as the music tinkles on and on and a single solitary droplet of sweat begins to run down the side of your face oh my god oh my god and the crank turns one…more…time and space and time seem to hang silent and echoing and FUCK!!! – a monkey leaps out and eats your face pops up.

Seriously, this thing is even worse than those Pillsbury biscuit cans. I think my idea of hell would involve this box, a bunch of biscuit cans, and someone slowly blowing up a neverending supply of balloons.

I’ve tried to play it for Riley, but I end up cringing so much and shielding my face (okay, I might have some…mental problems, here) that I can barely hold it together long enough for the monkey to do its thing. Riley is mostly interested in trying to shove the monkey back down into the box once it’s popped, while I take the time to catch my breath and fan my sweaty décolletage.

Anyway, those are the worst of the lot. I didn’t even get around to the spinning, rideable zebra with lights and music (LOVE YOU, MOM), or the fake CD player thing that squeaks, “I love to sing nursery rhymes!” in such an oddly porn-star voice I can’t help inserting my own dialogue (“I love to do the piledriver!”), or the xylophone which can be banged on over and over and over and over and over and over, oh my god.

However, they have all saved my sorry ass on more than one occasion during the Long Dark Toddler Times, and so here they stay. Along with the Roomba Wall Unit, of course.


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17 years ago

We, too, have the unfortunate spinning zebra (I’ve actually come to like some of those tunes – they’re just so cutesy house techno) but what my husband and I really enjoy is this other leap frog “learning playground” (it looks like something a mixmaster DJ might stand behind). The woman’s voice is SO irritating but we especially love it when she says “fuzzy…fuzzy fuzzy,” in a somewhat dirty, seductive drawl. We still do it over and over and over and have occasionally used the reference in the bedroom. Those little songs really stick in your mind, don’t they? The other day I caught myself singing to myself – “Rockin through the numbers, count with me, rock and roll to the NUMBER 3 – 1, 2, 3!!!” We also have the new Veggie Tales bus – I won’t even go into that. Sorry about the jack in the box phobia – it’s the clowns that really bother me – and those BLUE MEN. Ugh.

17 years ago

My parents got that same talking dog for my nephew this Christmas. My mother had to have all of the presents wrapped and under the tree by December 2nd… don’t ask why cause I dunno either. But I like to call that dog, The Possessed Demon Dog From Hell. It would giggle at the oddest times under the tree or say things. It would creep me out. I’m so glad it’s at my sisters house!!

17 years ago

I can totally comiserate. Fucking biscuit tins and monkey boxes. Oh, let’s not forget balloons. I don’t like loud noises or anything that causes them. As for the toys that make noise, we still receive them even though I made it abundantly clear the type of toys preferred. Take the Wheely Bug for example. This is a very simple toy; it is superfantastically adorable. Yet, what do we receive for our daughter’s 1 year birthday? Hmm? You’ll never guess. A Winnie the Pooh ride on airplane toy that has, get this, you’ll never believe it, a fucking propeller that spins on the front! My daughter is so fond of sticking her face right into the propeller. Of course it doesn’t hurt her; it’s foam. However, I will never be able to let her near a damn fan. Ever! And of course it takes batteries-of which I will refuse to replace on the grounds of not committing murder. Oh, and the creepy animatronic bears, mice, monsters, whatever the hell they are; everyone who attempts to give one to my child should just bend over because I’m going to shove it up their ass. Thanks. It feels so good to know I’m not alone.

17 years ago

I feel more normal now knowing that I am not alone in my fear of dumb ass jack in the boxes or cans of biscuits….THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

17 years ago

Those toys look to suck, except for the farm magnets which we have & love (I don’t mind it YET). Our WORST toy EVER is the regifted Baby Einstein turtle (wearing a scuba mask, because, DUH) that shrieks “SHAPES COLORS ANIMALS” and shrieks various well, you guessed it. This delightful gift has no off switch, so when I watch my friend’s baby on Wednesdays, the tike crawls straight for it and just POUNDS on top so it actually screams “SHA SHA SHA SHA SHA SHA SHAAAAPES COLORS ANIMALS.” Of course, the person who regifted this evil toy doesn’t know I know she regifted, but if she had just THOUGHT about it, maybe she would remember that I’ve been in her baby’s room like 8 times before and saw the damned thing, still in its box, because clearly they knew that this obnoxious, hideous plastic crap didn’t have a volume or on/off switch. Whew. I need to breathe.

17 years ago

OMG.. I laughed so hard I cried at the monkey in the box. I too fear the biscuit cans, but the monkey ALWAYS pops on the last “Pop” before “goes the weasel.” Easy to anticipate.

And the Fridge Farm? HOURS of delight. Especially when they match the WRONG parts and it tells them they matched the wrong parts. Secret? Gates to the kitchen. Fewer opportunities to play with them.

17 years ago

I have recently discovered this blog and am reading backwards so please excuse the late reply. I haven’t commented before because it is sort of lame/embarrassing to post on comments that are so old but I just had to say something about that singing hellhound.

My in-laws thought it was a great thing to get the monkey her very own singing hellhound in DUTCH no less. (My husband was born and raised in the Netherlands and his family still lives there so of course she’s growing up bilingual) To make things even better my sister bought her the english version for her first birthday! She sits on the floor surrounded by both singing dogs and baby tad (thank you Sister-in-law) and gets them all singing at the same time. It is sort of reminiscent of singing in around when you’re in kindergarden and the kids don’t know all the words and some of them aren’t even singing the right song.

I honestly have never thought to hide these toys from her (I must be stupid from the brain damage of hearing itsy bitsy spider, if you’re happy and you know it and hanse panse kevertje all at once).

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9 years ago

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