You know that feeling where you think someone just made a catty comment about you, but it was so subtle you’re not sure?
Well, from the very moment you give birth to your first child, you’ll be able to tell how your friends and family members really feel about you from the gifts they buy for your children. You’ll know when someone’s loving your child up and is supportive of your parenting choices. Likewise, you’ll know if someone’s sadistically taking aim at your new parent nerves.
Quiet, simple toys that encourage independent play? Yep, this gift buyer loves you dearly. But noisy, loud, flashing electronic toys of death? Yep, you must have done something terrible to them in a previous life. These gifts are designed to drive parents well and truly up the wall. Children become completely infatuated with specific toys, playing with them day in and day out. They even want to sleep with them. You need to have a mind of steel to survive in the same house as one of these toys.
Here are 10 toys cruel people buy for your kids (or alternatively, 10 toys to buy for kids of people you secretly don't like):
If you’re not aware of the history of the whistle, it was invented in 1883 as a way for police officers to attract attention. It’s since fallen into the wrong hands. Now, toddlers across the world have these torture devices in their sweaty little hands, and they are using them to demand attention.
Say goodbye to your peaceful lie-ins, quiet mornings or headache-free moments. Once there is a whistle in your life, your life is over. Oh, and the great thing about whistles, the people who secretly hate you will say things like “You can never have too many whistles.” They’re lying. One is too many.
#2: A Microphone
You probably already think your child is loud enough. Her deafening cries have ensured you haven’t enjoyed a full night’s sleep in over three years. She can silence an entire restaurant with the mid-tantrum shrieks over her pasta being the wrong shape. And she came pretty close to perforating your ear drum that time you gave the green plate when obviously she only wanted the purple one. How another person could look at your child and think if only she was louder is beyond you.
#3: A Recorder
This might sound a lot like a whistle, but it’s worse. Seriously, there are different notes so the sound will change. Erratically, of course.
And also, it’s a real instrument so you will be forever faced with the frustration that it could sound better. Not that it ever will. It will sound forever terrible, clamped in the lips of your toddler, while saliva dribbles out of the end of the instrument. When she’s finished her ‘song’, she will thrust the recorder into your face, splattering you with warm saliva, as she demands you play a tune.
Unlike a simple electronic toy, she will not tire of it. And unlike a battery operated noise maker, you cannot take the batteries out. Nope, with a recorder in the house you are well and truly stuck.
#4: Dolls That Cry
Whatever happened to a little bit of imagination? When you were young, you probably had a stuffed toy that you carried round with you, and called it your ‘baby’. These days, every child past the crying stage has their own doll that cries. That’s right, as a parent you finally battle through the endless crying stage only for it to be replaced by a tinny, less forgivable intruder.
The doll will cry way more than your real baby ever did, and you’ll never be able to stop it. Don’t expect your child to amaze you with her maternal instinct, she will appear deaf to the sound of her own ‘baby’ crying. You will at times wonder whether the crying noise is in your head since nobody else seems to react to it. Luckily for you, it’s perfectly ok to lock the doll in the garden shed, just don’t let your child see you do it.
#5: Toys That Don’t Switch Off
The best toys are the ones that don’t switch on. The worst ones, are the ones that don’t switch off.
These battery-powered sanity-destroyers will not leave you alone until every ounce of power has been sucked from their battery enclosure. In the months preceding this moment, you will be haunted by an eerily slow and deep version of whatever-the-hell sound they originally made.
In the middle of the night, as you lie in bed with the baby monitor on, your heart will jump into your chest as you hear voices over the monitor. You will rush to your child's room, brandishing the only weapons at your disposal (a bright red plastic tennis racket and a ceramic money box) only to find the room empty. Confused, you’ll turn to leave before noticing a pair or bright red eyes staring at you from under the bed. And the sound of laughing, a deep, husky electronic laugh from the darkness.
It’s that stupid toy AGAIN!
#6: Play Dough
If a friend has bought your child moulding dough to play with, it’s because they think your carpets really need replacing. No carpet has ever survived the arrival of such a dough. Even a multi-coloured carpet will be ruined over time as bits of dough fall to the ground, harden and make the carpet feel bristly.
If you have a white or cream coloured carpet, then it’s safe to assume that the buyer has a vendetta against you. Did you once run over their dog, perhaps? Or steal a few squares (okay, okay… a row) of their favourite Belgian chocolate when they weren't looking? Whatever it was, you need to apologise before this escalates. Play dough is only the beginning.
#7: An Electronic Musical Toy
Music is great. Tinny sounding, battery-powered electro kid music is not. It’s just not. Ever. And yet, toy shops are stocked high with an array of brightly coloured, noisy battery powered toys that play music. Well, not music. Noise. They play noise at the expense of your mind. Do you need your mind? If so, you need to put as much distance between yourself and that toy as you can manage. The toy probably has a big bright shiny button on it, and your child is probably sat robotically pressing the button over and over and over again. The moment between the music ending and the button being pressed again is filled with hope. Hope and survival. You pray that the batteries have gone, that your child has found something new to play with. And then the button is pressed again, and you sink back down deep inside of yourself where you can hear are your own screams.
Babies love bubbles. And the sight of that pure, unadulterated joy on your child’s face will mean that you love bubbles too. You will happily spend minutes blowing bubbles over your baby’s head so that she can yelp in excitement each time one pops. It’s beautiful.
One day, soon, your baby stops being a baby and learns how to say “More!” All of a sudden, bubbles are not fun anymore. Now it is a chore, a job that you must do on top of all of your other jobs (of which there are many). You are expected to do them simultaneously, preparing dinner one-handed whilst also entertaining your toddler with a spectacular bubble show. Your have two choices. You can either blow bubbles until every last drop of over-priced washing up liquid solution is gone. Or you can leave your child to it and spend hours cleaning bubbles out of your carpet, sofa and bed. The choice is yours.
Remember the good old days, where if you hated someone you would just put dog poop in a shoebox and mail it to their house? Those days are gone. Now, you can select a truly glittertastic craft set, complete with permanent markers, glue and All. The. Glitter.
Give the craft set to a child, and hey presto, the poor parent will spend the next two weeks picking glitter out of their sofa, eyebrow and, erm, personal places. If you can’t read this because of the glare of glitter coming from inside your eye, then you’ve been glittered.
You know what gets kids worked up with excitement? Birthdays. And Christmas.
And you know what makes a lethal combination when mixed with all that excitement? Sugar. Every person who has ever given your kids sweets, chocolate and candy filled with sugar, colouring, preservatives and a million other chemicals bound to send them off the wall, clearly has a problem with you. Either that or they have shares in your dental surgery. Get them back by asking them to babysit while you duck out to the supermarket, just moments after your child devours the entire bag of sweets.