Friday, January 28, 2005

Noisy toys

Some toys make noise. It may be a beep, a growl, spoken words, or a song, but there are thousands of toys in our house right now that produce some kind of electronic irritation.

Those of you without kids will fall into one of two categories. You may be blissfully unaware of such things as noisy toys. I say, "bless you." May you remain in your ignorance for as long as is possible.

Then there are those of you that are aware of noisy toys, and give these things as gifts to those of us with children. You are evil, evil monsters. May you have large, multi-gendered families with talking Barbies getting shot by loud laserguns, and with the human crying that must follow.

My own sister used to give noisy toys as gifts. She now has a child of her own and has repented.

My parents used to gleefully give noisy toys to our brood. Once, "on accident" we sent the Elmo Rock 'n Roll Guitar to their house with the boys. It worked.

May God richly bless all those who learn from their mistakes.

Nevertheless, we still have a couple of blissfully ignorant friends, several evil monster friends, and enough leftover noisy toys that the boys can always find them somewhere.

McDonald's for example, had little Sega (!) handheld games in their happy meals a few months back. We have 4 boys, so 3 or 4 trips to McDonald's yields about a gazillion of these things in and around the house. We've been throwing them away like mad for the past month (T has beat them all; he's my nerdlet), but they still show up.

They're in the car, between couch cushions, in beds (yes, in beds; S1 and J share a double bed, and they're awake for about an hour each night after the lights go out; it's always kinda fun to pull back the covers in the morning and see what they've stashed in there: LEGO's, books, night-nights, and yes, Sega (!) handheld games).

These games are like cockroaches.

So the other night, about 2 AM, I hear this electrnic tone. Of course, I'm kinda on call, so I'm worried it's my phone and that a server's down, etc. So I jump out of bed (very cold) and head out into the hallway.

Thankfully, it's not my phone. But the sound is coming from the Middle's room. It's not super-loud, so it has to be either in or under something else. It's also very annoying, so there's no way I'm going back to sleep.

I stand in the middle of the room, and pinpoint the sound as coming from inside their toybox. This is bad. Aside from making electronic noises of various sorts, the other ubiquity of modern toys is that they're all made from hard plastic. This includes the toybox.

Tangent. In college, I had a roommate who was an Industrial Education major. One quarter he took this class in plastics. For the next year and a half, whenever we saw, discussed or used any kind of plastic, he would tell us what it was, whether or not it was recyclable, and what he could make from it. He would know what kind of plastic(s) both the game, the toybox, and every other toy in that toybox were made of.

Whatever kind of plastic it was, I was going to make a lot of noise looking for anything inside that big plastic box. Also, the sound bounced around inside the box, so I wasn't going to be able to find the game withought light.

Have you ever woken up a child at night?

I have, and I wasn't going to do it again. So I pick up the toybox and take it out into the hall, where there's a nightlight. Then I start fishing around for the game. During this whole endeavour, the game is still sending out it's annoying little "play with me" tone.

Context is important, so let's review. It's 2 AM, it's cold, I'm in my traditional cold-wather sleep wear (boxers and socks), hunched over a toybox in the hall, looking for a Sega (!) handheld game from McDonad's by the light of a nightlight, while the game is going off inside the toybox.

FYI, when you open a plastic toybox in which a game is making noise, the noise gets much louder.

At this point, my lovely wife calls from our room, in a Nyquil enduced stupor, "What are you doing?"

I can't answer, because I'm right outside the boys' doors. I'm already making way too much noise, apparently. So I say nothing and keep searching.

Again, louder this time, "What are you doing?" Cornered, I issue the loudest "Shhhhhhhhh!" that the world has ever known. Dogs down the street are in pain, but this either works perfectly, or else the Nyquil kicks back in.

I search in the box, trying to keep shuffling to a minimum, and find the game. Hurrah! But it's the wrong one. This one's not making noise. I stare at it in disbelief and then put it aside for destruction later.

Another one. Hurrah! Also wrong, also not making noise, also set aside for destruction later.


And another. This must be their breeding ground.

I move a large, loud, pointy piece of plastic, and there it is. It beeps, and I flip it over. The on/off switch is stuck (probably apple juice), and my cold fingers have a hard time turning off the game. But I finally turn it off. Yay.

After checking to make sure that there are no more "beepers" left in the box, I make sure that all the ones in my pile are turned off. Then I put them all in the bathroom trashcan, carry the toybox back into the Middle's room, and head back to bed.

I'd like to say thanks to Sega (!) for making those fine handheld games, to McDonald's for making them available (in bulk) to my children. You all owe me 90 minutes of sleep.


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