Kids’ toys have gotten absolutely ridiculous since I was a child. It’s as if toy makers don’t think twice before they go forward with their many ideas and designs. So many toys are wholly inappropriate for children, much less babies.
Take, for example, the bath toys our 7-month-old daughter plays with each night: a package of 10 small rubber cartoonish sea animals that suck in water and spray. The whale I understand, certainly. The snail, harmless.
But the rubber stingray? How am I supposed to explain to my 7-MONTH-OLD that stingrays, if agitated, can sometimes strike and kill their aggressor? “It might look cute, honey,” I am forced to say to her, “but one of these very creatures violently ended the life of Steve Irwin, the famed Crocodile Hunter only a few years back, by stabbing him through the heart with its barbed tail while his friend watched on in horror. He died instantly.”
My kid hasn’t even seen the Crocodile Hunter perform, nor understand the concept of death.
While the makers of the stingray toy should be ashamed, even more innocent toys require additional explanation. My daughter has a small squishy ball with soft spikes on it, and while I am sure the spikes feel good on her teething gums, the toy also resembles a flail’s spiked ball from Medieval times. So there’s my precious child, chewing on her ball, looking all cute on the floor, and I’m struggling to explain to her that peasants in the 16th century used devices with similar looking spiked balls typically made of stone, iron, or steel to deliver lethal blows to their enemies’ heads. Plus, I’m so afraid that she’s going to ask me more about the Middle Ages, and I don’t recall much from my world history classes in high school.
As a hand-me-down, we were given a Fisher-Price red toy barn with miniature farm animals. The barn is also battery-operated and makes animal noises, none of which are the screams of terror of farm animals being slaughtered. I appreciate Fisher-Price for not including such sounds and using only “moo,” “oink,” and “neigh,” although I still feel responsible for explaining to my sweet, innocent, adorable baby that all of these animals eventually meet their demise so that we can enjoy their meats for our own nutritional benefit.
"We don’t eat horses," I tell her, holding up the miniature horse action figure, "but if they break a leg while racing, it’s game over, straight to the glue factory. Also, some other countries in fact do eat horse."
So the Fisher-Price toy barn gets an F, and if a Fisher-Price toy horse glue factory exists, that gets an F, too.
Stackable, colorful plastic cups? “You can fill them with water, but many children are not so lucky.”
A dinosaur puzzle? “They no longer exist. Entire species instantaneously wiped out by an asteroid, which is a significant possibility during your lifetime.”
A stuffed bunny? “I ran over a real one of these when I was 16. It lived but probably not for much longer.”
At some point, as you can see, kid’s toys crossed the line from innocent to inappropriate, and I look forward a day when she is a little older and ops for something more proper and less controversial, like a Barbie doll or video games.