The Noisy Toy Prerogative

03/11/2008 By Shawn Burns

We celebrated Erin’s first Christmas in December. To make it special we spent our holiday visiting her grandparents and her aunts. We expected that she would be loaded down with toys; so many, in fact, that we avoided buying her any ourselves.

We were not disappointed. And in full accord with the rule that says “If you don’t have any kids buy the loudest and most annoying toy for those who do”, Erin’s aunt bought her this little gem.

The Leapfrog AlphabetPal Caterpillar.

It has many settings, music, colours, letters, and it will make some kind of noise with each foot that is even looked at in too direct a manner. It also has a large button on its back which, when depressed, encourages it to burst into a full song. And, if you pull it by its string it will sing the Alphabet Song.

That’s a lot of noise for one little piece of plastic.

Because I knew this was a particularly obnoxious toy, with only marginal usefulness for my 10-month old daughter, I let her play with it only occasionally. But for some reason, perhaps because I’m evil, I turned it on tonight and let Erin go to town with it after her mom came home.

Erin poked it; it sang. Erin lifted it; it sang. Erin crawled around with it up on its side; it almost had a fit trying to figure out which of its many songs to sing (because many little feet were being crushed at once as Erin darted from room to room with it).

Erin’s mom warned, “You have 5 more minutes with that thing, kid.”

5 minutes passed. And a couple more. And the noise was maddening. I don’t know why I let it go on; I can tune things out better, I suppose. But eventually I noticed a change in my daughter’s play.

When she would drag the caterpillar around and it was quiet she was happy; but if it started singing she was getting upset. I imagined her inner monologue including several expletives and repeated exhortations for the plastic demon to “Just shut up! Shut up! Why can’t you just be quiet?!?”

The toy was so annoying that not even my daughter could tolerate it for more than ten minutes.
But I toughed it out; I outlasted her.

As I reached down to finally turn the thing off I sent a mental message to my sister, my loving, considerate sister who had gifted us with this excellent torture device:

“I win, sis.”