Monday, August 18, 2008

Sound of silence

The toy I was most afraid of was a drum set.

Because who wouldn't be? Bang bang bang. Boom boom boom. It's music, the giver of the drum would say, and I would smile and cover my ears.

But no, the little one already has his very own drum and it's pretty mellow. It's a pseudo-colonial all-wooden drum and drumstick, probably wants a fife and a flag to go with it. Offers a nice little boom boom boom. I encourage the little one to play it. Sometimes I bang on it to see if he'll dance.

The toys I don't like to listen to are every single electronic toy he owns. Like the magical counting toolbench that sings. "La la la, I am a toolbench, ABCs and 123s are fun, I am going to sing this over and over because your kid keeps pulling the lever, la la la." Or the big NASCAR steering wheel that turns to the sound of electric guitars and a child's voice going "vroom, vroom." Not to mention the months spent listening to all the toys that played tinny, kiddie versions of classical pieces. There is no way something that annoying is making him smarter. "It's music time!" some of the toys proclaim, as though the fact that there was music playing was not some sort of a clue. 

And why is every song a toy plays clearly something in the public domain, and therefore free? Like the infinite variations on "Bingo." Or "I've Been Working on the Railroad." "Turkey in the Straw"? C'mon, you're making the toys out of cheapie plastic, you can't afford to hire someone to write some fresh music?

Because clearly you spent money on voice talent. The people singing these songs (well, not so much the kid going "vroom, vroom") sound pretty good. Unnaturally cheery, but good. I wonder if a gig like this is a step up, career-wise, or down? "Well, I didn't make 'Idol,' but I'm providing the voice for this toy phone with little pictures of farm animals on it. The kid can call the farm animals on the phone ... hey, where are you going?"

There is an upside, of course. Batteries do run out. Maybe the little one won't notice if we don't replace them. Like in that toolbench, for example.

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