How A Kids’ Toy Drove Me to Madness

how a kid's toy drove me to madness

For my daughter’s first Christmas, my mother gave her a plastic toy fish bowl. Armed with five accessory fish she could place inside and take out again, it lit up in brilliant colors that mesmerized my daughter. When we arrived home after the holidays, this new toy became somewhat of a regular favorite.

As with many kids’ toys these days, this one came pre-programmed with several catchphrases and little jingles. One of the songs wasn’t too bad, as far as kids’ toy jingles go. It actually sounded kind of unique compared to the songs my daughter’s other toys play.

Soon enough, like many…many…of the songs my daughter enjoys on a daily basis, this particular jingle lodged itself into my brain and began playing on repeat. At first, I didn’t really notice, but as the days—days—went on, and nothing else replaced it, I began to go a little crazy because I couldn’t quite remember all of the lyrics. Several places in the song, the same word or phrase repeats, and my brain just couldn’t recall which words got repeated how many times, resulting in some jumbled jingle mess constantly nagging my thoughts.

At my wit’s end, there was only one logical to solution to this problem. I had to listen to the song in a dedicated, intentional way, without my daughter jostling the toy and causing it to move on to the next song in its playlist. Bedtime was fast approaching, and I sensed a window of opportunity.

I got my daughter changed into her jammies and her teeth and hair brushed, hugged and kissed her goodnight, and handed her off to her daddy, the usual bedtime story reader.

Then I grabbed the toy from the living room floor and snuck out to the mudroom, closed the door, and sat down on the stairs where I wouldn’t be heard. I clicked on the power button and shook the toy lightly, making it come to life with noise and colorful, flashing lights. I knew the jingle in question was somewhere around fourth in the lineup of songs, so I shook the toy again, and again, and again, until the offending song began to play.

“All the colors, all the colors, yeah, sparkle like a rainbow, rainbow, underwater rainbow. Red, red, orange, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple-purple-purple-purple in a rainbow light show. Bright, shining colors like a rainbow, sparkle like a rainbow, rainbow, underwater rainbow.”

(In case you’re wondering—yes; I did just type that from memory.)

I tried to play it back in my head, satisfying my brain’s desire to know all the words. Infuriatingly, I was still tripping up over many of them, probably because of how strangely repetitive, and oddly lengthy, it was.

Once just wasn’t going to be enough.

So I shook the toy again. Again. Again. Again. Until I finally arrived back at that song. I listened intently. I tried to sing it to myself under my breath.

It still wasn’t enough.

And so, I sat there on my mudroom stairs without a care in the world about anything else, just the burning need to memorize all the words of that song, hoping they would resolve themselves in my head and leave me alone. The minutes went by as all I did was hold that toy right up by my head and shake it violently, hunting for the jingle and then listening hard to it, repeating it back to see if I’d gotten it yet.

I was mid-shake when suddenly the door opened behind me and I realized how long I’d been sitting there. I looked up to see my husband towering over me, having finished the bedtime routine and come looking for his strangely absent wife.

Naturally, he wore a puzzled expression. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“I had to know what it says,” I replied, as if this should be quite obvious.

My husband’s face morphed from puzzled to bewildered and finally to amused and slightly sarcastic as he told me I needed to get a life.

He was, of course, correct. He’d iterated what so many moms forget too often; as much as our children’s songs, jingles, characters, and games inject themselves into every part of our existence, leaving us with less time for our pursuits, we have to be intentional about filling our lives with things we enjoy, too—such as our own music. Otherwise, everything that makes up our children’s life ends up inundating us and leaving us feeling less than whole as people.

I looked down at the toy, amazed at how much of a hold it’d had on me. I had the rest of the evening to do whatever I wanted to do, so I put down my daughter’s activity and focused on my own, seizing the time that was given to me.

Interested in this toy? As much as I joke about it here, it’s really a fun little toy for littles. Click here to see a link to purchase through Target.

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