Thanksgiving is over, which means that Christmas is coming, which means your house will soon be filled with new toys. Most of them, I’m sorry to say, will be toys that you hate. This is because they’ll be chosen by relatives who either a) have never had children or b) have children who are so old that their parents no longer remember what it’s like to have a house full of annoying toys. The likelihood that any particular toy will be given to your child by a relative can be calculated using an equation involving the noisiness, messiness, and general annoyingness of the toy. The higher these factors are, the more likely your kid will get one for Christmas.
Happy New Year.
But it’s not so bad. At least when Great Aunt Bertha buys an annoying toy for your kid, it means that you don’t have to spend money on it. Because the sad truth is this: it’s not your relative’s fault you have these toys in your house. It’s your fault, for having a child at all. Annoying toys will find their way to any house where a child lives. If no one buys them, they will grow in the walls and creep out through the vents at night, and you would find them in your toy box with no idea how they got there. At least this way you know where they came from — and where they’ve been.
What are these toys? I’m glad you asked. Here are the toys that were guaranteed to appear in your house eventually, no matter how much you tried to keep them out. If you don’t have them yet, now you can be prepared for when you do.
But don’t think about trying to keep them out of your house. Resistance is futile.
10. Unidentified pieces of broken plastic
What is that strange, moon-shaped piece of red plastic with a sharp edge where it broke off from the rest of itself? You’ll never know. But it’s a good bet it’s all that remains of a Happy Meal toy. No matter if your child has never been to McDonald’s — one way or another, cheap pieces of random plastic will appear in your toy box. I recommend you throw these out on sight and then take the trash out immediately. If you leave them in your toy box, they’ll breed.
9. A wooden hammer that is much too heavy for a toddler
Where did the idea come from that heavy hammers made good toys for toddlers? Whoever invented this obviously never heard the saying about the whole world looking like a nail. Keep this toy on a high, stable shelf, and only allow its use under close supervision.
8. Magic sand
Sand is a great toy for exercising creativity. And it feels really cool, which means it’s wonderful for sensory development. The fact remains that if you ever allow one single grain of it into your house, it will never go away. It will leave a fine dusting on every surface in your house. And it makes wood floors dangerously slippery. Too much of it could be life-threatening.
It would, however, be a great toy if it would stay outside. But that will never happen. Magic sand is an invasive species. Like Play-doh and fingerprint.
I know this is another sacred tool of creativity and engineering and I’m an evil person for putting it on the annoying-toy list. But if you’ve ever stepped on a tiny Lego at 3 am when you were stumbling to the bathroom in the dark, you know I’m right. You think the Legos are teaching your child engineering skills. Really they’re just lying in wait for the right moment to kill you. Legos are out to get you. You’ve been warned.
6. Books that read themselves in annoying voices
True, books are awesome and every child should have lots of books. Also true, books that read themselves are annoying. Mostly because they are guaranteed to break and start reading the same page over and over no matter which page they’re supposed to be reading. This will frustrate your child. It will also drive you completely insane. Remove the battery, stat.
5. Something plastic that sings nursery rhymes in a high-pitched voice
Do I need to elaborate?
See #4. Remove the battery.
4. An electronic tablet
I’m not sure why this toy is guaranteed to appear in the presence of little kids, because really? Why do little kids need tablets? I can only conclude that children magically bring tablets into the house using telekinesis. Because they want them so, so much. And if you really want something and put your mind to it, anything is possible.
Unfortunately, humans lose telekinetic ability around the age of ten, so you can’t get them out of your house by wishing. You’ll have to take more extreme measures. Once again, start with the battery.
3. Stuffed animals that no one plays with
I loved stuffed animals when I was a kid. I still have many of mine. And I played with them. I slept with them, ate with them, and took them on magical adventures in Fairyland. But my kids don’t play with them. Ever. And this in itself wouldn’t make them annoying except for the fact that they take up so much space. That stuffed dog that’s bigger than my five year old? It needs to go.
Also, why don’t my kids play with them? Are they too good for stuffed animals? Is it because they have no buttons? No voices? No electronic screens? Stuffed animals are a casualty of our times. I’m sorry, Lamb and Rabbit and Bear. Maybe some other child will love you more.
2. Disney princess everything
It doesn’t matter how much you dress your little girl in blue. It doesn’t matter how many science experiments you do with her. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend teaching her to use table saws. At some point — usually before her third birthday — she will discover Disney princesses. And then it will be all over.
The first time my daughter saw Elmo, we were at a neighbor’s house, and as far as I knew, she had never seen a single episode of Sesame Street in her life. But she spotted a life-sized Elmo doll, pointed to it, and said, “Elmo! Elmo!” How did she know who Elmo was? I’ll never understand.
But there’s one thing I do understand: his voice is more annoying than those high-pitched singing nursery rhymes.
If you already have these toys in your house, I’m sorry. There’s not much you can do. You can get rid of them before Christmas, using the brilliant trick of convincing your child that they need to give away stuff in order to make room for more stuff. But it won’t do you much good. Because the more you make room in your toy closet, the more new toys — possibly much more annoying ones — will appear. They’re like gaseous molecules. They expand to fill all available space.
So you might be better off sticking with the toys you know. And murdering them after bedtime.
Image by Jeff Golden via Flickr