Before I had children, I believed that all toys should be educational. There would be no mindless video games, there would be no sexist, female-objectifying plastic dolls, no “latest and greatest” toys purchased because my child(ren) had been hypnotized by commercials to believe that without that toy, there was no point in living. And since my children wouldn’t be watching television commercials, that would be easy. I’m not sure any of these plans actually involved a plastic bubble, but maybe if they had, it all would’ve worked out.
So–as I’m sure you’ve already guessed–there were a few fatal flaws in my planning. Most notably that I had my head up my ass when I made all of those decisions. It’s very easy to set rules for fictitious children, I’ve found. Unfortunately, the real live ones tend to be a bit more difficult. Particularly if you allow them to leave the house and mingle with other real live children.
Also, as much as I enjoyed arguing with my ex about “appropriate toys” while we were still married, I hold even less sway over his actions, now that we’re divorced. And he’s entitled to his opinions, even though they’re all wrong.
(Did you hear that sound, just then? It was that little muscle at the jawbone that sort of pops when he clenches.)
Look; realistically, I cannot force him to comply with my ideals, and I get that. If I couldn’t bend him to my will while he still got to see me naked on a regular basis, there’s just no kidding myself that I’m in a position to be persuasive now.
Furthermore, I haven’t exactly been a pinnacle of unbending moral victory, myself. While I am rapidly approaching the 8-year mark of a complete and successful Barbie Ban in this house, I cannot claim triumph if I’m being honest. True, we have no Barbies. And we CERTAINLY don’t have any of those freaky looking Bratz monstrosities. Chickadee knows we will never have them and she knows why–I feel that they portray an unrealistic ideal of what girls should look like. Also, they frighten me.
But what do we have instead? Well, we have lots and lots of baby dolls and girl dolls without boobs (thankfully), but we also have enough Polly Pockets to populate a small plastic country. Now, when I was a kid, Polly Pockets were squee adorable little girls who fit into tiny habitats. In fact, I don’t know if it was an actual Polly Pocket or if it was something else, but in one notable family portrait I am grinning ear to ear in large part because I am wearing a necklace that held a little dolly in a plastic display bubble. I loved that thing beyond all measure.
Today’s Pollys have BOOBS. And high heels. And endless wardrobes of rubbery hooker clothing. Is she any better than Barbie, if I’m sitting astride my high horse of feminism? Nope. Yet there is a horde of Pollys having a beach party at any given time down in the playroom, because somehow the first one flew under my radar and then she SPAWNED AN EVIL SILICONE COLONY. I swear to you that I regularly vacuum up her shoes and her tiny little Diet Coke cans and powder compacts and heroin needles and STILL she persists in partying with a fervor unique to those with plastic for brains.
So yes, I confess that I cannot blame it ALL on my ex. I’ve played my part, here.
When he told me he was getting Gameboys for the children, I snorted in derision. “Those are not coming into MY HOUSE,” I declared smugly. And for a long time, they didn’t. But I kept hearing tales of how both children could sit and amuse themselves without fighting, rapt with attention, for long periods of time… provided they were each plugged in to these magical little handhelds. So over a school vacation or something, I allowed the Gameboys to come visit our house. They were MAGICAL! It’s just like giving them crack, but so much less messy and illegal!
I begrudgingly had to admit that perhaps my ex wasn’t ALWAYS wrong.
But as I shared with you all a few days ago, we had a great Christmas with just a few–fairly simple–gifts for the kids. Monkey was elated over his box of Pokemon cards (which, yes, okay, pre-children I probably was certain I would never succumb to “those silly card battle things,” but that was before I understood that a handful of cards can keep him entertained for about a week), and Chickadee’s favorite gift was this little doohickey.
I’m naturally thrilled that they enjoyed their gifts and that they were so grateful for things that weren’t big like, say, a pony, or overly gadgetriffic like, say, a computer. But I was also patting myself on the back because my inner bargain maven was rejoicing: The Pokemon cards were free, and I got the braider on clearance for $3.
Pre-children idealistic me was waving her pom-poms in the back of my brain. “You don’t have to spend a lot to make kids happy! Rah rah! Simple, inexpensive things are the best! Go team!”
Aaaaaand then they went to Daddy’s house.
Daddy took out a second mortgage on his house and bought Chickadee an Amazing Amanda, because she has apparently been begging for one for months. Funny, she never mentioned it to me. She probably knew I wouldn’t buy it for her, just as surely as she knew that her father would.
Now, I’ll give you three guesses (and the first two don’t count!) as to what a little girl finds cooler, given the choice: A thing that makes her hair look sort of interesting, or a doll that recognizes only her voice, has a preternatural awareness of her surroundings, and loves to talk about peeing and pooping. Go on, guess!
I cannot compete. And I think I’m past the stage where being “trumped” irritates me. She is always going to get bigger and better and glitzier stuff from her dad because he loves her more. I mean, because I’m cheap. I mean, well, just because we’re different people with different parenting styles. That’s fine.
No, the problem here is that Amazing Amanda is the most disturbing toy that has ever entered my house and I want her to leave again before she kills me in my sleep.
When the kids came home tonight, eager to show me their new acquisitions, Monkey’s prized item was a new stuffed puppy. That brings his total ownership of stuffed puppies up to… eleventy billion. (Oh, and you should know that almost all of them are named Puppy. That makes things really entertaining when he’s looking for a specific one. His father and I have struggled to make them easier to distinguish, dubbing them “Old Puppy” and “Fat Puppy” and “Main Puppy” and such. Anyway.) A new puppy! Excellent! I admired it and Monkey went happily on his way.
Chickadee wanted to show me EVERYTHING that Amazing Amanda can do. I was required to stand there and witness the voice recognition (works great; half the time Chickadee has to convince her that she’s her mom, which is very realistic, I think), the food recognition (shove any one of the plastic food items six inches into her mouth and she’ll comment on what it is even though if she were a real toddler you’d be performing the Heimlich manuever while she turned blue), and the AMAZING animatronics (wherein her eyes pop open and closed right before she runs after you with a wee little butcher’s knife).
Then I tried to get away from her, and Chickadee followed me all through the house holding the doll up as close to my face as she dared, because she wanted me to see when Amanda got tired of playing the “be quiet” game and asks in her syrupy voice, “Mommy? Can we talk now?” At one point I tried to push the doll out of my airspace and recoiled when my hand touched her face. She’s all… rubbery. And clammy. And UNNATURAL. And then her oversized eyes start blinking again and I can tell she’s thinking about sinking her tiny teeth into my jugular vein.
Amanda needs to go back to my ex’s house. Soon. If I’m going to die in my home, I want it to be the result of a tragic hair-dying accident or one of my children realizing that I am the source of everything wrong in the universe. Being murdered by a bright-eyed blonde with hairplugs and an excretion obsession is just NOT part of my plan.
Now I lay me down to sleep… I pray the Lord to destroy all double-A batteries in the universe….