Parenting

My Son's Electronic Toys Give Me the Creeps

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I think my son’s plastic farm toy is haunted. The other day, out of absolutely nowhere, it suddenly exclaimed, “Thanks for helping me on the farm today!” in this terrifyingly upbeat voice that emanated from inside two sinister white, plastic barn doors. Uh, you’re welcome?

Before we go totally The Shining here, I will say that the toy is electronic and that “Thanks for helping me on the farm today” is one of the things it’s supposed to say when you turn this little dial to switch from “daytime” to “nighttime.” But, no one had touched the thing in hours. Terrifying.

When I was a kid I had this doll called Baby Talk. It said things like “I love you!” and “feed me!” and came with this little bottle it would suck on. I loved that doll. But one night, while I was asleep, it fell out of my bed and started talking. “I love you, Mamma,” came an eerie, childlike voice out of the far, dark corner of my bedroom. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my entire life.

The point is, electronic toys are scary. They’re just objectively scary. I don’t care if it’s a smiley little turtle that sings the ABCs, or a fluffy dog that barks when you pet it, sooner or later it’s going to go rogue and scare the living daylights out of somebody (most likely you).

Meanwhile, who writes the songs that these things play? I mean, if I’m going to be scared out of my wits at three in the morning because the little talking airplane became possessed by a demon at the exact moment I was stumbling bleary-eyed to the bathroom, it might as well play “Leaving on a Jet Plane” or something.

Here are some actual lyrics from one of my son’s electronic toys: “Sheep are fluffy. Fluffy white. Tuck them in and say goodnight.” I mean, honestly. What does the color and consistency of sheep have to do with their bedtime routine? Those are two totally unrelated thoughts.

Or how about these: “It’s such a beautiful day. It’s a great day for flying.  Flying up, flying down, flying all around!” What the heck kind of crazy plane is this? I’m sorry, if I’m ever in a plane that flies up, flies down, then flies all around I’m demanding my money back. Also, that song doesn’t even rhyme.

Not to mention the people who actually sing these terrible songs. That’s part of what makes these toys so scary. These full-grown adults, trying to sound kind of (but not really) like kids and acting like “Baa baa baa sheep like to say! Baa baa baa it’s time to play!” is the most exciting (nonsensical) statement they’ve ever uttered.

I always just picture these regular-looking people, arriving at the recording studio, Starbucks in hand, saying hi to the receptionist and the sound guy, taking off their coats, heading into the booth, and then belting out “I’m a little turtle small and green!” And then the director’s probably like, “Okay, good but could you do it again a little more excited?”

Which is also really scary to me. Who knows who these people are and why they’ve chosen to sing the ABCs into a large purple hippopotamus for a living. Do they really sound all screechy like that? If I met them at a dinner party would they talk to me in the same tone of voice they use to say “Thanks for helping me on the farm today?” God, I hope not. But here they are in my home. Talking to me even though no one touched the toy.

So, yes, I suppose I could be one of those moms who never buys any kind of electronic toy. That would certainly lessen my chances of a middle-of-the-night heart attack. But my son loves them and I’m not actually philosophically opposed to them. So, I guess I’ve got to just live with them. I mean, really. They’re harmless. I think . . .