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The Toys We Hate

February 5, 2009

“I’d rather clean my house from top to bottom.”

“They make me want to gouge my eyes out.”

“They are of the devil.”

“I’ve lied about losing it.”

“That makes me want to blow my brains out.”

“It grates on my last nerve.”

“It’s hell in a box.”

These are all things that were said by some girlfriends at a recent venting session.

What, you ask, could provoke such animosity? Such disdain? Such feelings of fear and dread that makes mothers turn to lying just to escape the horror? Kid toys. Yes, you read that correctly. Toys. And games, too.

It appears that each of us harbors that hatred for one specific toy or game that simply makes us want to run for the hills. “Oh, it’s not so bad,” you say (especially if you are the parent who gets to escape to go to work). “You should count your blessings. You get to play fun games all day long with your children. You’re lucky!” Fine. Then you take a month, a week, a day off and just stay home with the ankle biters, ignoring your education, your adult brain, and your longing for intellectual stimulation. Let’s see if you don’t develop a hard-core hatred for one activity, toy or game.

What started as a guilty confession from one mom to the rest of us, had us all laughing within minutes. While the catalysts for these comments varied from Tinker Toys to Geo Tracks to Play Doh to Chutes and Ladders to Lincoln Logs, or imaginative play games like “Kitten and Owner,” “Cinderella and the Pigs,” or the one that made us laugh the most, “Pretend to be a dragon so they can throw cardboard bricks at me,” the end result is the same. The mere prospect of having to play that one particular game one more time is enough to make us long for a straight jacket and padded cell.

We love our kids. They love these games. But we simply are not on the same wavelength. We are in our 30’s and 40’s. They are ages five and under. Our love is strong, but our interests are nowhere near what our kids’ interests are. This doesn’t make us bad mothers. It simply makes us honest adults.

One mother’s love for arts and crafts may be another mother’s worst nightmare. Some moms would rather spend hours building houses, animals, gadgets, and cities out of Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs or Legos than spend one minute pretending to be an imaginary mutant ninja turtle. (Although, we all agreed that Chutes and Ladders was enough to make us cheat just to end the inane torture.)

Each woman has her set of sacrifices she is happy to make for her kids, but there is that one activity, toy or game that she just has to refuse in order to retain an ounce of sanity and self-respect. And that’s okay. Our brains, personalities and experiences have shaped us already. We’ve had a chance to go through all of what made us who we are today. If we loved all of the same things as our children do, there would be something wrong. Grown women shouldn’t have ninja turtles, Play Doh, and “Kitten and Owner” on their lists of their favorite things in the world. That would be weird.

Toddlers’ and preschoolers’ interests simply do not match mommy interests. Just as our kids may groan and whine when they have to come shopping with us, or out to a coffee with other moms when no other kids are there, we should feel free to admit that we don’t enjoy playing every single game our children love.

So get rid of the guilt, moms. Fess up and admit that hatred for whatever your personal “hell in a box” happens to be. It’s okay if you don’t want to play Cootie ever again. If you have to hide the container of Tinker Toys on the top shelf of your pantry in the hopes that your child will never find it, you have permission.

Just remember, you are not a bad mother. You are an adult woman with a brain. And someday our kids’ interest may match our own. Then we’ll be left longing for the days of the Exersaucer.

(First published in “Because I Said So” for TheAlternativePress.)

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