Articulated animatronics

By Mir
December 27, 2005

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….


  1. DebR

    That thing may perhaps be even more scary than the Snuggle Bear. Maybe. (shudder)

  2. buffi

    We have so many stuffed animals with exceptionally original names like “puppy,” “elephant,” “bear,” etc. I’m glad to know we are not alone.

    Amazing Amanda has all the makings of a Chucky movie. ::shudder:: Get her out of your house ASAP!

  3. Chookooloonks

    I’m SO glad you’ve confirmed my worst nightmares about that doll. I did a review of it on Blogging Baby, and decided that it was the lovechild of Chucky and Satan.

    How truly frightening. She must be destroyed.

    Have you thought about suggesting that Amanda needs a bath? in about, say, 2 feet of water?

    heh heh heh heh heh

  4. Nothing But Bonfires

    She may be disturbing, but I think Amazing Amanda’s one redeeming feature is that she DOESN’T HAVE BOOBS.

  5. Jenrigg

    OMG, the spawn of Chucky in your house!! How frightening for you. I think she needs to take that deep bath URGENTLY. Failing that, you could always tell Chickadee that she has been demanding to go live with papa while Chick is at school. It might work. I am SO glad that my ex is a tight so-and-so. He even made my DD save up and pay for half her birthday present this year. Charming!

  6. Karen

    Same here — no Barbies (not even “My Scene”) and no Bratz, but Polly Pockets up the wazoo. Sigh.

  7. Greg

    Dolls are scary, I routinely had to cover up my sisters dolls if I wanted to sleep at night. I don’t know whats scarier, a doll that blinks or one that doesn’t. However, the *Link*the my little pony doll that is designed to sleep in the bed with your child is pretty darn frightening. For extra laughs read the review. SWEET DREAMS

  8. Lisa

    They could at least be truthful. Namethe Doll Tina. Then the adults will know what we are in for…

    I’m Talking Tina…and I’m going to *kill* you.

    Yes that Twilight Zone has deeply affected me.

  9. Liz

    I think you would enjoy the book Elivira Everything by Frank Asch (1970). It’s about an electronic doll that comes into the house as a Christmas gift and takes over. (but then she takes a bath …) Amazing how prescient a book from 1970 could be on today’s electronic toys … (check the library, it may be out of print)
    Love your blog!

  10. Tiff

    I did the same thing when pregnant with my first child. We had a niece staying with us (she was 3) and I was not going to let my kids throw fits, drink koolaid out of the kitchen, etc…. Ummm yea… LOL

  11. Dawn

    Spawn of Chucky and the Devil, indeed. Ick.

  12. Ann Adams

    I’m so glad my girls don’t care too much for dolls, although we are overwhelmed with stuffies still.

    I saw the original post on BB and was creeped out. Your post is hilarious.

  13. Genuine

    I’m sorry I got lost somewhere around seeing you naked…

  14. RockStar Mommy

    Seriously, we got an Amazing Amanda doll too. Only I’M the fool because I’M the one who bought it. Not only did I buy it, but I spent $100 freakin dollars on it. Whoever heard of an ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR DOLL? And how much of a MORON does it make me for actually spending that?

    I’m really, very scared of her. She’s JUST like the Bride of Chucky.

  15. elswhere

    My child must NEVER KNOW about that doll. Never. *shudder*

  16. Liz

    Would you mind including all triple-A batteries into your prayer…oh, and dayum whoever came up with all those twist-ties on every freakin’ box I opened…times four kids…that’s a lot of freakin’ sore fingers!

  17. Chewie

    um…but…AA runs on C’s…

    How do I know that?

    Let’s just say we have one of those types of gift givers in our family too…it wasn’t ME…but what can I do? Smack MIL in the face and leave the doll at her house?


  18. Chewie

    oh..and this is where I got totally creeped out…I looked over at one point and dh was putting AA on the potty chair…

    Thinking he had lost his freaking mind, I say “um..we have a lot of kids, but we aren’t currently potty training any of them…what are you DOING?!” and he says…”well…she said she had to potty…I ignored her, but she started crying and insisting…so I put her on the pot…she peed and quit crying.”

    OH NO…NO…nooooooooo

  19. Amanda

    Kill kill kill die die kill kill die kill kill die die.

    $100 for me?!?!?!? You’re shopping at the wrong store.

    fun trivia…
    Voices done by June Foray:
    Talky Tina, killer doll,
    Rocky the Flying Squirrel,
    Karen in Frosty the Snowman,
    Cindy Lou Who in the Grinch.

  20. chris

    she sounds terrifying! do you hear her voice in your sleep? hide all the batteries! quickly!

  21. Theresa

    HAHAHAHAHA! I have no problem with the Barbies/Bratz dolls or game boys here, but that doll? No way would she ever be invited into my home. Scary!

  22. LatteMan

    The only Barbie that ever bothered me was the American Idol Barbie, and that was mostly because of the Karaoke machine that came with it, and my daughter bouncing around the house singing, “I’m not so innocent”

  23. TB

    Ah yes, but the Double As come in handy for the adult toys and where would we be without those?

    I’m still in the haven’t had kids, all toys will be pc and educational never never land. We’ll see how long that lasts.

  24. ben

    We long ago gave up on the ‘all toys will be educational, Good Toys’. I think it was Day 2, when my eldest Would Not Stop Crying so we did another thing we swore we would never do, “take a crying baby to Wal-Mart” and shook thing in front of his red screaming face until something caught his eye and we gladly paid the full asking price.

    Of course, this was a remote control for a 27″ TV set (which also had to be purchased). And his taste in toys has only gone up the price scale ever since :)

    Can’t offer advice for Amazing Amanda, all of our dolls (there are many, it’s a virtual Superdome for nekkid babies at our house) don’t have batteries. But they all need diapers. Fresh, clean diapers.

  25. Brenda

    Which My Little Pony is it? The link isn’t in your comments? I may need to buy it for someone who really deserves such a gift.

  26. DaFFy

    It’s so amazing how many of the ideas we have on bringing up our children dissipate once we have live children to practice on!

    And get that doll out of your house…NOW! She certainly sounds as if she is harbouring evil intentions…

  27. Fraulein N

    How is it that I knew what Conair doohickey you were referring to before I clicked on the link? It is certainly not because I have coveted it myself, on occasion. No, certainly not.

    Also, I would like to reassure you that Amanda has no evil intentions toward you, but that, as we all know, is a lie.

  28. Bethany

    I too thought..

    No electronic toys..
    No toys with licensed characters..
    No toys that were shown on commercials again and again..

    And then, my 2 year old happened. She LOVED electronic light up toys, she ADORED Elmo and has gone through Blue’s Clues, Dora, and now Disney Princess. (Who came up with THAT line of marketing? The should have got a huge bonus from Disney, because it’s really just pure genius. Now not only do we need to buy everything Belle, but she’s also been turned onto Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty just by playing with the toys.)
    And then..well, I just gave up.

    If you can’t get Amanda to sleep at Dad’s, well, sleep with one eye open…

  29. Shiz

    So. Creepy.
    Run while you still can.

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