Jeff Foxworthy is not the funniest of comedians, but the title of this article is reminiscent of one of his infamous skits that involved the noisy, annoying and down right awful toys available to kids these days.
It seems that in order to grab a child’s attention, every knick-knack, and toy whether acquired through a Happy Meal or in a toy store has to make some sort of noise or comment. Even toys designed for itty bitty babies are powered by batteries and include obnoxious lights and sounds that quite frankly….probably scare a new born to death. (Maybe that’s why they aren’t sleeping through the night yet. Really – have you seen some of these toys?)
And honestly, how many times have you wandered through your home in the dark only to step on some thingamajig left lying on the floor that whistled, barked, chimed, or dinged at the precise moment when everyone under the age of 10 in your home had just fallen asleep? And what about Elmo, perhaps the most annoying Sesame Street character of all time? Couldn’t they make a quiet Elmo? In the long run, it might pay off for Tyco toys, because this way at least no one would be able to claim that Elmo is saying something secretly sadistic to impressionable young children.
One of the worst things about parenthood is the volume of noise that is constantly involved in it. While your kiddo might think you are simply un-cool for listening to Celine Dion instead of some rock band, the truth is that your ears have been overloaded for more than a decade and you have lost sight of what quiet really feels like.
This year, take a pledge to do something about it. Make sure that included with all your cutesy holiday cards is a big bold statement that alerts everyone to the fact that you will not be accepting toys with noise. Simply sign your name and write something like, “NO TOYS WITH NOISE….PLEASE!”
That is simple enough, and hopefully your distant relatives and friends will get the hint that you don’t need another fake kiddie computer to teach your child his or her letters. They will understand that you aren’t interested in a karaoke machine or a drum set. Even better, let every single one of them know that should your kids receive a gift that makes a peep, you will pay them back by not only sending it to their children – but also will include a 2,000 piece beading set. (Another terrible gift idea that blatantly says you hate the recipients’ parents!) And listen, you are the parent. This means YOU are the boss of your children and YOU make the decisions about what you allow in your home (or what you throw out the window driving down the interstate), so all in all, this isn’t such an over the top request.
On a more serious note, the truth is that children really don’t need all these bells and whistles to make a toy fun. Look at the old cardboard box analogy. You could wrap up a refrigerator or dishwasher box in colorful paper, and your child – no matter how old or young, will play for days and hours. While you might get sick of looking at the thing in your living room, especially when its covered with duct tape to keep it together – it will at least be quiet. And it provides your children with a hiding place so that you won’t see them or hear them. Double blessing!
Experts in child development actually believe that toys with too much stimulation stymie the imagination and delay the development of children. Children make plenty of their own noises, and can use their own minds to create scenarios and conversations without being led by a dolly that screams, “My diaper is wet!” Children from days gone past played with wooden blocks and the noisiest thing they owned was a xylophone or pretend telephone. Today, you would wager a bet that more than 3/4ths of everything your child owns makes some sort of freaky noise or sound. Maybe that is why our children get bored so quickly, because they are constantly looking to be entertained – rather than encouraged to entertain themselves.
There is nothing wrong with a little peace and quiet. Especially around the holidays. One simple solution to this problem of receiving ridiculous and noisy toys from every Tom, Dick, and Harry that wants to be your child’s hero is to give people a shopping list of the parent-approved things your child wants. Better yet, encourage them to send money in a little tiny envelope. And, don’t be afraid to pre-open a gift before your kids see it to make sure that it is something you wont mind stepping on at 1am. Even so, some dumbtard in your circle of friends and family will end up sending an obnoxious toy. Hopefully the day will come when you can pay them back by returning the favor. And maybe, they – like most people forgot to send batteries along with the toy, which means it can remain in the box or disabled until your kids forget about it. At which point, you can return it to the store and buy yourself something nice.