Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Repost: Why must children's toys be so doggone noisy?

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.

June 1, 2011

When I was a little girl, I had a Fisher-Price train.

I loved that train. It was battery operated, and it made a delightful choo-choo sound. A loud one! As often as I could, I pulled it through the house, as it choo-choo-ed loudly along behind me.

My mother hated the train. She really, really hated it. The choo-choo-ing drove her bananas, and frankly, she could hardly stand to look at the thing. Eventually, my train "stopped working" and disappeared; it was more than a decade before I would come to understand that my mother had hidden it.

I was upset about its disappearance for a long time, but now I feel comfortable saying the following publicly: Mom, I forgive you.

Thirty-mumble years later, I finally understand what drove you so crazy about that toy.

Kiddo, you see, still seems to have little or no interest in toys that don't make noise. Dolls? Boring. Crayons and paper? OK for five minutes, but mostly boring. A keyboard that plays several songs and has beats and a volume button, though? SUPERFUNMUSTPLAYNOW! A toy laptop that plays songs and gives instructions in a sing-songy voice that makes Mommy want to throw things? YESPLEASETHANKYOU.

For a while, we tried taking the batteries out, but kiddo, who is nearly 2, is too smart for that. She quickly took to throwing any "defective" toys across the room. We went back to batteries.

The worst toy, of course, is the one I least expected to be annoying.

On a recent trip to a toy store, my husband had the bright idea to buy her a puzzle. It has shapes. What I didn't notice when the hubs showed it to me in the store was that it's not a silent puzzle. Who expects a chatty  puzzle?

Each time kiddo gets the right shape in the right slot, the puzzle, well, says so. Imagine this, over and over and over and over again: *Click* "Octagon!" *Click* "Triangle!" *Click* "Pentagon!" *Click* "Square!" *Click* "Circle!"

To make matters worse, the puzzle's magnetic attachments are weirdly sensitive. Even when we're not in the  same room with it, it's not uncommon in our house to hear something like "Rectangle!" out of absolutely nowhere. This is most disturbing when the lights are out and we're all in bed. We have joked that it's haunted.

Naturally, it's one of kiddo's favorites. Naturally.

I can't get rid of it now, but even though I'm not a psychic, I foresee a tragic accident in that puzzle's future.

It's going to "stop working," and then, I suspect, it will disappear. I'll have to ask my mom for tips on how to make that happen, because I insist on learning from the best.

Do your kids have toys or games that drive you batty?

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