The things we buy our children because parenthood just isn’t exhausting enough.
This post was inspired by a woman I vaguely know on Facebook. She posted in one of the mommy groups that she’s looking for one of those rubber floor mat puzzles for her son. My first thought was, “NO rookie, don’t do it!”
Rubber Floor Mat Puzzles
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, they’re made of foam rubber and you get either 26 (alphabet), ten (numbers) or, as I once had, 36 (both numbers and alphabet) brightly coloured frames into which the numbers, letters, shapes etc. fit.
The frames then interlock to form a beautiful, bright floor mat for your child’s room, saving at least a section of the carpet from the inevitable juice, pee and half chewed biscuit your toddler insists on mashing into every surface of the house.
In theory it’s a win. In reality it’s a horror show.
Yes, you do have a beautiful, bright floor mat … for about five minutes. Let me tell you something, people; toddlers are not about building and keeping things clean. They are about destruction and mess. Large amounts of both.
You will spend ten minutes building the thing for the first time (it takes much longer all the subsequent times and you’ll soon understand why) and then in the time it takes you to go for a wee, your precious child will wreck it utterly. You will return to what looks like a Toyland warzone.
Here’s where the increased build time comes in because now you have to crawl around the room on all fours straining to see under the bed/toy box/bureau searching for the letters and matching them to their frames.
Finally, an unknown number of minutes (hours?) later, you complete the puzzle mat again, stand back to admire the effect and realise it has holes in it. You see, what the lovely manufacturers of this time wasting treasure have kindly done is to include the little filler bits where there should be open space in the letters.
So, for instance, you are now missing the tiny triangle from the middle of the ‘A’ or the two semi-ovals from inside the ‘B’ and so on.
Now, what you want desperately to do is walk away, drink coffee and think happy thoughts but if you, like me, are mildly obsessive compulsive, you are compelled to find every last piece, even the one he’s stuck down his nappy for no clearly discernible reason.
After a few days of this frustrating rigmarole, I promise you will pile all those pieces up in a corner where you hope he won’t notice them and wait for the whole lot to disintegrate.
Moving on to another self-inflicted torture – the toys that make the noise.
Toys that make a noise
Now you might think you’re too smart to fall into that old hole. You would never inflict that kind of suffering on yourself. Here’s the problem, though: GRANDPARENTS. Grandparents, you see, don’t live with you so when they see the adorable singing/talking plaything they don’t waste a second thinking about what it will be like to live with.
Now, I didn’t mind my daughter’s Barney doll which, when squeezed, played the Barney theme song although there were times when I would wake up in the middle of the night and I swear I could hear that thing singing to itself somewhere in the house. She also once had a doll which would invite you to brush its hair and sing a cheesy pop song when you obliged.
I didn’t mind that either but I have two sons for whom people buy soldiers and guns which, when activated, scream “FIRE! FIRE!” followed by machine gun fire and explosions.
I can’t even conceive of how you can fit a small plastic toy with concert grade speakers but the Chinese seem to manage it.
We’ve had a Spongebob plush toy that played music with lyrics you couldn’t quite make out, a roly poly panda bear with the same issue and several cars which sound as though they’ve been fitted with actual V8 engines. Not to mention a parade of keyboards, drum kits and other ‘musical’ instruments.
The list of tiring toys includes, it would seem, just about all toys.
Barbie dolls lose shoes like Cinderella on speed, their hair is a constant snarl which can’t technically be brushed because it’s plastic and, if you have sons, they have marker, crayon and stolen lipstick all over their faces which you absolutely have to wash off before your daughter pitches a fit.
Toy soldiers can never stay together even when you buy a special box or bag for them all to go into when they’re not being played with. And there will always be one waiting in the dark for you to stand on and break.
Speaking of things which wait in the dark, how about Lego?
Not only does Lego wait for your bare foot to come down upon it, causing you almost unbearable agony, but it also has a tendency to eat itself. At least I assume that’s what’s happening because my oldest son has had much Lego purchased for him in his nearly eleven years and yet, when I tell him to go and build something, his response is always that he doesn’t have enough to build anything cool.
A peek into yet another specially purchased box reveals that, indeed, half of his Legos appear to have vanished into thin air. Sure, some are lurking in the dark, as mentioned earlier but the rest are a mystery on the level of lost lighters, hair clips and odd socks.
We have to buy Legos though don’t we? Just like we have to buy puzzles which will never have the correct number of pieces and books which we will have to repeatedly stick back together so that we can attempt to read them through our children’s scribbles.
These toys, after all, are important for our kids’ development. Sometimes though, at the end of another crazy day, I wonder if development is really that important.
Before we start buying the infuriating ‘educational’ toys for our children, they like Teddy Bears.
I like Teddy Bears.
I like them because they have no moving or detachable parts. Teddy bears make no noise and when they get dirty you can throw them in the wash. Best of all, Teddies are too big (and friendly) to lurk in the dark.
Even if you do step on one it will not cause you to drop the “F” bomb at the top of your voice which is, perhaps, not the education you were looking to give your toddler. VIVE LA TEDDY BEAR!
I suppose some things are a necessary evil but I highly recommend that you think very carefully next time you’re considering buying something for your child.
Ask yourself, “In how many ways will this purchase potentially destroy my sanity?” and go from there.
Guest Post by Lisa Bennett
I am a mother of three (two boys with a girl in between). I used to home school but I blew a fuse in my brain and put all my kids in school which has its advantages (like a moment to myself now and then) and disadvantages (don’t even get me started.) I live on the REAL West Coast (the middle of nowhere) and my kids are beach bums with a serious YouTube obsession.