We were at my friend Liz's house this afternoon, which is always an exciting event for Jack because he adores her little girl Lucy and her toys. Or at least, he enjoys most of her toys. Lucy has a toy bear that not only looks like a polar bear in drag (I kid you not, the thing is slathered in blue eyeshadow, has false eyelashes and bright red lips) but it also blinks and talks. We always had a good giggle over it and admittedly found it a bit creepy ourselves, but I had no idea how much it would terrify my son. Jack took one look at it and backed away saying "I don't like it!" and Liz promptly put the Dragbear upstairs out of sight. Later on, Jack and Lucy headed upstairs to play and moments later we heard a bloodcurdling shriek as Jack came upon Dragbear in Lucy's room. He ran downstairs in floods of tears as Liz locked Dragbear up in a cupboard.
Trauma mostly averted, he resumed playing. Then he noticed Lucy's cat - a battery-operated toy that takes a few steps, meows, and sort of kneels forward and twitches its tail (although to me, it looked very much like when a male cat marks his territory.) He looked at it cautiously as I made all sorts of happy talk with incessant smiles about how fabulous and wonderful the cat was. Yes, that one was fine. He smiled and let it go on marking the room with its invisible spray.
Moments later, Jack came up to me and said "I don't like the lady" with that same worried look he had when he first saw Dragbear. "What lady?" I asked, as I followed Jack into the playroom. "THAT lady!" he said, pointing at an over sized doll's head used by little girls for decades to apply makeup (or in my case as a child, permanent marker) and style its hair. "It's only a dolly", I assured him but to no avail. Dollyhead was promptly relocated to Lucy's room.
It was at that point that I noticed writhing plastic limbs waving over the side of a toy buggy. Liz told me that it was baby Sophie, a doll that not only talks and moves, but it knows its name. It knows 80 phrases, none of which sound like something that would come out of the mouth of a small baby and goes on writhing and babbling as long as it's switched on. Lucy decided to put Sophie to bed, wrapped her up in a fabric bag and stuffed her in the buggy. So there it was, a lump of fabric moving around inside the pram while a muffled voice said "I'm sleepy!" Thankfully, Jack never noticed it. Me, I'm gonna have nightmares for weeks about that thing.
So it struck me today: girl toys are scary. They talk, move, and wee. They speak in high-pitched tiny voices, pleading you to love it, or they stare at you with lifeless blue-eyeshadowed eyes. Boy toys are objects that go bang bang, nee nah, toot toot, or vroom. Sometimes they go beep or bzzzzzzzz. Mostly they're on wheels and they don't do anything unless you push them around. They don't tend to come to life in the middle of the night and start talking to you. Unless of course you buy your son a Furby, which also scares the shit out of me.
That's it; Mia shall play with nothing but Lego and Playdough, and possibly a wooden spoon and saucepan.