Toys make kids happy: I GET IT. This is why I’ve been totally cool with whatever our family and my kids’ friends get them for birthdays and holidays. This is why I help them budget themselves when using their own cash to save up for something special at the toy store. I see the pure joy in their eyes when they watch videos of toys being unwrapped, for cryin’ out loud. When they get to actually open ones of their own, I cheer along with them whether or not I even understand what the hell it is they are holding in their hands.
But that doesn’t mean I have to like them.
After over a decade of parenting, one thing I can say for sure is that there are three kinds of toys: Ones I loved that I love seeing my kids love, ones I can happily tolerate/ignore, and ones I want to slam-dunk into a raging bonfire. They land in that last category because they are loud or messy or cause fights or are misogynistic or just plain dumb, but they all cause the same visceral reaction in me that I—a kind, loving human—never thought I’d feel about inanimate objects. Yet here we are. Oh, I say “we” because I know I am not alone. Here are just some of the toys I want to toss into the goodbye forever flames:
These candy-colored demons gurgle and chatter, making your kids feel like they are raising fluffy animal babies, while simultaneously haunting your dreams. Once one moved in with us, my life goal was to make it fall asleep. I can say with confidence that I have yell-whispered, “DO NOT WAKE THAT THING UP,” about a Furby exactly one thousand times more (and more passionately) than I have yelled the same about either of my kids.
2. Tiny LEGO pieces that won’t pull apart
I do not have time in my life for this s*it.
3. Wooden puzzles
Puzzles are annoying no matter what, since moments after the cellophane is torn to remove it from the box for the first time at least two of the pieces disappear. Your optimistic offspring will INSIST there’s a chance the pieces will find their way back home, so they weep when you creep that box of disappointment toward the recycling bin. But even worse are the ones that make music or sound effects. You know, those wooden ones that all grandmas are legally bound to purchase for their grandbabies’ third birthdays? Those noises never quite sound like trucks or ducks, so much as Satan’s whispers from the dark recesses of the game closet when you pass by it at odd hours of the night.
4. Board games that require assembly
5. Squirty bath toys
Might as well just hand our kids cups filled with mold soup made with DNA-rich tepid soap water and say, “Drink up!”
6. Claw machine stuffed animals
Otherwise known as Descendants of the Island of Cheap*ss Misfit Toys. These things (banana starfish? polka dot eagle car? WTH am I even looking at?) are cherished because they were won, but hugging them even just a wee bit too hard makes them explode into a puff of polyfill and neon thread. Their weak constitution also makes them impossible to wash, which is the first thing I want to do with them because eeeewwwww claw machine tooooyyyyy.
7. Toys that have a girl version and a boy version — and I don’t mean the toy has an actual gender
Unless specific genitals are required to activate the toy—which I’m guessing is illegal?—this is stupid. Boys and girls can play with toys that are not assigned colors such as blue for him and pink for her. Stop it. And if the phrase, “boys will be boys,” is on it or plays as a recording, it deserves even more flame accelerant.
Why hasn’t the toy industry been able to design toy dolls with adorable faces? They’ve had like a couple hundred years to make this happen, yet I keep walking into rooms only to discover a feminine Chucky doll face half-winking at me while silently mouth-breathing through two fake front teeth. [shudders]
9. Microscopic dolls
Making creepy dolls even tinier and then giving them accessories that are lost immediately until you find them embedded in the soft flesh of your right foot is not a thing that is fun for parents. I’m looking at you, Calico Critter families that would have been perfectly fine naked, but nooooooo they have to come with overalls and straw hats and handbags and crap that fit perfectly inside a human nostril. Kids cannot resist removing the clothes, but cannot get them back on. Guess what? NEITHER CAN ADULTS.
Call it magnetic or kinetic or artistic—I really don’t care. IT. IS. SAND. It does not belong in my house.
11. Musical instruments that aren’t real
Learning how to use an instrument is wonderful. Noisy at first, sure, but there are skills and stuff happening, and the end result is lovely music. But those hybrid toy-instrument monstrosities like mewing Cheshire cat-shaped keyboards, guitars that play the same awful tune over and over while your kids jab at buttons that create the actual sound of anger, and anything that looks like cymbals mated with a hunk of primary-colored plastic are an offense to the senses. Burn them all.
12. Balloon anything
If it’s not causing a fight between your kids as to whose turn it is to play with it, it’s causing a fight because they each have one but one of them is bigger than the other, or there’s only one and it popped and now everyone is crying. SO FUN.
Okay, so that’s just the beginning of the bonfire fuel. Once it’s thoroughly heated up, what will you throw in?