Toys and Why I Kind of Hate Them

On Tuesday, I was honored to receive another Freshly Pressed nod by my friends at WordPress*. I wish I could be cooler about the whole thing and not even bring it up in a post, but the truth is that every time I get recognition – any recognition – it’s a major thrill for me. I feel like I’ve accomplished something even when my number gets called at the DMV. You may have heard of me. I’m 275.

*For the one or two of you who read my blog because you actually know me and not because I’ve made Internet best friends with you, Freshly Pressed is the blogging equivalent of winning an Oscar that’s been dipped in a Grammy and then sprinkled with little Emmys.

The FP experience plays a pretty substantial part of my day, and since I blog about my days, I can’t really leave it out. I don’t take praise (or criticism, for that matter) lightly, and I’m grateful for all the love I’ve received while writing. The only reason I do it somewhat well at all is because of the encouragement I receive along the way. So my Freshly Pressed is your Freshly Pressed. Kumbaya.

This never gets old.

This never gets old.

In the FP post, I waxed poetic about the nature of friendship and finding people who you can be yourself around, and I did so with an extended metaphor about early humans and how their societies compare to ours.

Today, an addendum to my musings on cavemen. Do you know what makes them kind of better than me and I’ll bet a whole lot of you guys too? I’ll tell you. They didn’t litter their freaking caves with stupid toddler toys. Here’s what they had:

One piece of clothing (maybe)

One bowl

One spear

One piece of bark to play with and/or burn

The End.

I am losing my mind over here. I feel like all I do all day is pick up the various parts of Wee Cee’s toys* and put them away. I feel this way because it is all I do. Every single gadget she owns is a multi-piece toy, and instead of playing with their parts together as they’re intended, she instead places them in the most mindnumbingly nonsensical locations ever. My purse is a great place for puzzle pieces. Those little Fisher Price rings that go around a post belong under the sofa and no place else. My entire collection of underwear goes in the bathtub. Her little foam cutouts of farm animals are placed equidistant from each other around the entire layout of the apartment. It’s totes fun.

*Please note that Cee views every single thing in our home as a toy, so I include a box of plastic disposable spoons, my husband’s briefcase, and everything in the kitchen junk drawer within the “toy” nomenclature.

Before her birthday a few months ago, we took her to Target to peruse the toy section and see what she was drawn to. We selected a barn with a giant chicken on top. Here it is:


I’d love to take a picture of her toy to show you, but I can’t find the camera. Someone moved it. Can’t imagine who.

The chicken has a giant hole in its head where C can insert four balls that are supposed to be chicks. This thing imparts absolutely no workable skill or concept (chicks, in fact, do not belong in their mother’s head) but since she liked it, we got it for her. OMG worst decision EVAR. Those roly poly balls haunt my dreams because I have become fixated on getting them all together in one place. Futility! My life is such that when I am able to locate all of them and place them inside the chicken’s storage silo, I feel at peace with the world for a moment. Don’t be too jealous.

Then there are the puzzles. Who decided that small children should own puzzles? Life is a puzzle. It’s messy enough as it is. Children under the age of two do not need little pieces of wood and cardboard to teach them about various professions and animals. This is why we have books. I am going to invent a puzzle where all the pieces are somehow tethered to the board so they don’t get lost and they don’t tempt tiny hands to put them in the dishwasher. Anyone want to place an order?

The best part of the whole situation is that we just keep on piling on the crap. On Sunday, I needed to get her out of the house for 30 minutes so B could finish grading, so I took her to the store and purchased three books of stickers, each containing an average of 300 decals apiece. This, my friends, is what we like to refer to as lunacy. There are now Angry Birds all over the front of our oven.

Cavemen didn’t have such trappings. Sure, they got eaten by dinosaurs and floated away in lava. Sometimes they got trapped in ice and then were melted by Pauly Shore and Sean Astin thousands of years later. However, they never gave their kids plastic garbage made in China. They were onto something.


  1. The toys can and will take over. The only solution is to get a pet that destroys toys. That way the puppy/rabbit/squirrel/whatever gets the blame from the child for ruining toys, you get to blame the child for leaving them out in the first place, and then you get a house with fewer toys. Yup.

    1. Brilliant idea!! I’m going to keep this in mind.

      1. I wish I’d known this earlier. We wasted our everything-eating dog on our pre-child years. The dog in question ate: a wedding shoe, a mini-blind and numerous cat turds.

        1. That dog had a gourmet palate.

    2. That’s a good plan! I’ve wanted an excuse to get an exotic pet anyway.

    3. Our current dog does not eat toys. Makes me a little sad some days.

      1. This is why reverse obedience school should be a thing.

  2. Sounds like you surely need a playroom. I have often wondered if they do actually make toys that way so that you end up losing the pieces and your sanity as well. I would sooner have a few foam toys scattered around the house than paint, now there’s a big no no!! Good Luck, try and not crick your back with all the bending down

    1. I would LOVE a playroom. We are growing out of our apartment too quickly to keep up with the flux of stupid toys. My back is already punishing me for it.

  3. And the brilliance just keeps coming! You put me in mind of when my beebees were little and I was obsessed with keeping up with every single blob of colored plastic they owned. For to have pieces missing to toys was the epitome of sloppy mothering. Now lots of that plastic is melting in the attic. Didn’t I do good?

    1. I fantasize over melting down all her toys into a multi-colored plastic blob. That would be wonderful!

      1. OMG, you reminded me of an idea that sounds so amazingly amazing but is actually a really bad idea! It’s the melt all of your old crayons into new crayons thing. Imagine hours of peeling paper off of crayons because you don’t have old crayons because you are a little (lot) obsessive about old crayons but your daughter will whine if you don’t melt all of her crayons into happy heart shapes and you can’t stand it if your daughter whines. I get manic just thinking about it.

  4. Ooh congratulations on another FP, that’s fantastic!
    And those toys… I swear to myself I will be very strict when it comes to toys. My husband by nature is a minimalist so I think he’ll hold on better than I will, but who knows… if the only way to appease my new child will be to get them a new toy, will I be to blame?!

    1. I have a total soft spot for buying my daughter books. I always think, “Meh, one more won’t hurt,” and then a giant pile of them falls on top of my head. I hope you guys have better willpower than me! My best advice is to get rid of something the instant you know it won’t work for you and your baby anymore.

  5. OMG – You’re the new Erma Bombeck! (Look her up, I’m old.) PLEASE keep writing and making me snarf my morning coffee. You brought back so many memories. Here’s a helpful hint: great big ice chests (picnic coolers) and a child-size snow shovel make the clean-up go faster. Another one: the kids don’t care if the pieces are all together!

    1. I totally know who she is! She is my idol! That is a complement not lost on me, and I thank you heartily for it! ;D And do you know what? I actually wrote something awhile back where I mentioned getting a giant decorative box and just sticking all of her crap in it. Great minds, great minds. Thanks, Ethel!

  6. The stickers?! Really? I think you’re a masochist.

    1. Oh gosh, and congrats on Freshly Pressed. I remember that post well, and I distinctly remember thinking it should be FP’d. I’m an oracle!

      1. Thank you! You should dress yourself up in a toga and charge for your advice! (That makes sense in my head.)

    2. Oh man, I TOTALLY am! ;D

  7. sidney · · Reply

    Another home run !!! Put 50% of her toys away where she can’t get to them. Keep out her faves. She’s be just as content & you can have a break !

    1. I totally will! I am hauling a TON of her old junk to the consignment store tomorrow. I may reward myself afterwards ;D

  8. Congrats on the FP, Emily. It is a great post. And the toys? It just too hard to stop!

    1. Thanks, Cathe! It is totally ridiculous. The bright side is that writing this finally got me to a point where I have piled all her old junk in a corner, and it’s destined for the baby consignment store tomorrow.

  9. ardenrr · · Reply

    Congrats on the FP and I LOVE this post simply for the Encino Man reference. Bravo!

    1. Yay! I’m glad someone caught that! A bajillion extra bonus points for you!

  10. Okay, you are just amazing. Freshly Pressed again? I got this honor a while back and never dreamed it could happen to a person more than once. I’d ask you for your secret, but I think it’s just great writing, plain and simple. Congrats to you — enjoy it!!

    1. Thank you! I am really a lot more proud of the piece that got Pressed this time around. The first time it happened, my daughter was only four days old and my head was spinning too much to fully relish the honor. My best advice is to just keep at it. (Full disclosure: sending cookies to the WordPress staff AND selling your soul ups your chances considerably.)

  11. It has only just begun.

    1. Like he said.

    2. I can always count on you to keep it real, TD.

      1. Hey. Jussayin’.

  12. Congratulations! Good for you. And I wish we could have seen the photo of the chicken.

    1. As soon as I find my camera, I will put a picture on the Facebook page. It is a sight to be seen. My mom calls it “the hydrocephalic chicken.”

  13. The only toys my kids have ever wanted are empty coffee cups and the remote control…. oh and the swiffer to swiff the floor and rags to clean the floor…..and the washer and dryer to do their laundry (for reals). They are under 4 years old and I cannot keep them from doing this stuff. I am betting they inherited these traits from their pops. Crazy kids.

    Their teen siblings on the other hand………….. I’m not going there. bwahahahaaa

    Congrats you talented writing fiend!!! very proud of you on your freshly pressed!! I squee’d when I saw your post featured there this morning!! HAPPY DAY!!

    Also – Lego – root of all evil.

    1. DUDE. What is the deal with the empty coffee cups? My kiddo has a minor obsession with them too. She even likes them when they’re partially filled, which, let’s be honest, I TOTALLY get. I mean, coffee. I drank enough of it when I was preggo and bf’ing her that it’s a wonder she doesn’t already need a caffeine fix in the morning. But the empty cups? Why? Just why?

  14. When my uncle brought my 2 year old son a toy with 150 movable and choke-able parts (that also sang “I’m living in a barbie world”) I kind of lost what remaining cool I might have had after 2 years + 38 weeks of pregnancy…That toy went to the donation bin immediately. His passion is cars – we must have 900 hot wheels; and at one point, my husband thought we should count them and keep track of them (when he only had about 400) – and by “we” he meant me… that was lunacy and I was pretty firm in my objection to that kind o’crazy b/c they sure as shit were not residing in their toy box or even an area remotely near the toy box.

    Did you ever have the thought that “my baby will have one toy out at a time so she’s not overwhelmed and the house will stay reasonably clean”? Weird husband said that once – I laughed and noted that he has had even LESS experience with babies than I did when we decided to make one ourselves. I love the before & after ‘philosophies’ of new parents the best.

    1. I totally had that lovely thought. In fact, we withheld quite a few of the birthday gifts she received a few months ago with the intent to release them throughout the year. That worked for awhile, but I’m pretty sure it’s only because she’s so small and didn’t really know what was going on at her birthday party anyway. Then, when my mom was here, we got out the toy she had sent to C so she could associate it with her. We intended to just put it back after she left, but C absolutely LOVES it (it’s a singing picnic basket, and while I dislike talking toys, I have to admit that it’s pretty cute) so it’s staying out. Le sigh…

  15. I can only say I feel your pain. My daughter is going on 11; I see no end to the itty bitty pieces o’ crap she insists are necessary to her continued existence. She collects what I call Littlest Pet Shit, a series of animal-ish creatures with big heads, big eyes and tiny bodies. Note those features. You will see them repeatedly as they are the template for all things girls love. So, we have about thirty-five millions Littlest Shit Shop figurines AND the bazillion gazillion itty bitty pieces o’ crap that each comes with. This, of course, is not enough. We also have every yogurt container that ever came in our house (rinse and washed, of course) now in use as a home for the Shitty Little Shop creatures.

    Boys? Once they get past the Hot Wheels/Lego/YuGiOh phase, it’s video games. Video games have no itty bitty parts that you can step on in the middle of the night on your way to the bathroom. I am convinced that boys do not really want to play video games but that some evil genius parent invented them and made them irresistible so that she/he could get the itty bitty shitty bits out of their house.

    Oh, and congrats on the THIRD FP. Bitch.

    1. Are they pink and pastel and magenta and bright purple? Why is it that every single little girl toy has this color palate? I hated day-glow when I was a kid and I hate it even more now. It is SO HARD to buy girls anything in primary colors and not spend at least 50% more on it. This is why I want to make her clothes (haha, like that will actually ever happen.) I like a smattering of pink occasionally, but if all her toys and all her clothes are bright pink and purple, I will feel like she’s clashing with the whole look I have going around here.

      Also, while we’re on the subject of stupid kids toys, WHY does every baby toy have a smiley face on it? I picked up her little play fork today and it was smiling at me. WHY?

      This third FP has put to rest my desire for world domination. We should all be heaving a tremendous sigh of relief that my ego is satiated. ;D

      1. To quote a the mason Dixon knitters, girls things come in three colors: pink, purple, and pinkandpurple. You will buy clothes that you think are adorbs, bring them home, put them on her and she will fling herself to the floor wailing until you put something glitterpinkpurpleruffle on her. You will then, dutifully and happily buy her only glitterpinkpurpleruffle things. Then, the day you come home with a bag full of glitterpinkpurpleruffle dresses that were 50 percent off, she will curl into a wailing, sobbing ball because she will only wear rainbow capris with panda tank tops and how could you not know that her favorite color is rainbowpanda?

        I pity us.

  16. Whoop Whoop! Partay up in the FP House!!! Congrats!! And yeah, toys. Being that it’s my son’s birthday and his party is this weekend, we are getting ready for a new onslaught. But we have been really good about making the kids purge every year before Christmas, and we take them to Goodwill. Believe it or not, because it’s something we do every year, the kids are ACTUALLY really great about parting with things. It’s apparently one of the few things I’ve done well as a parent. Obviously, Wee Cee is too young for this ritual, but maybe something to keep in mind for the future. It makes them mindful of all they have, helps them not to get too attached to material things, and teaches them they can help other kids who don’t have as much. In the meantime, just remember…this too shall pass.

    1. Thanks! Helping her donate things she no longer needs or wants is definitely something that I want her to get in the habit of doing as she gets older. This post actually has gotten me to purge a ton of the excess stuff we have laying around the house. Her bassinet, walker, bjorn, Bumbo, and a ton of clothes and baby toys are all destined for the consignment store tomorrow. I keep playing this little “oh, but what if we have another baby?” game and it keeps me from making the purge, but we’ve gotten to the point where I never feel fully relaxed at home because we have all this excess laying around. If this “other baby” ever comes, we’ll buy her the stuff. Whatever. It’s replaceable. My sanity is not.

      1. True dat. Though it would be nice if they sold sanity at the consignment store.

  17. Well congrats on FP! I’ve been out of the loop in blogland lately. Just busy, busy. Will have to go back and read it! And just don’t even get me started on toys. The only light at the end of my tunnel is that at least one of my kids is kind of getting out of that stage. Hallelujah!

    1. Thank you! Summer is ridiculously busy, I’m finding. My husband is a college instructor so I thought having him home would free up a lot of my time, but it’s actually done the opposite. Maybe I should enlist him in the toy cleanup….

  18. Congratulations again! I will also award you the jeweled scepter and crown of hilariousness. Because no one makes me laugh like you do!

    1. You are the best! You can just reward me with a plush stuffed animal and appoint me to Hero Squad.

  19. Oh the toys other people give you too. We caved and made a toy room. It looks like a tornado most all of the time.

    1. I think it’s a good idea for a kid to have a place where they never have to tidy up. My mom made C a playhouse that fits over a card table, and I’m resisting the urge to organize it.

  20. Congratulations on the FP! :) Woot woot! :) I am relatively new to the toys being strewn all over the house: and not sure it’s fair to blame the six month old – is it too early to teach him to pick up after his parents? :)

    1. I don’t think it’s ever too early to lay the bedrock of anal retentiveness in a child. I am trying my hardest to get my kid to pick up my messes.

  21. […] Toys and Why I Kind of Hate Them. […]

  22. I’m very intrigued by that chicken. When its chicks aren’t lodged in its head, does it look like it has vacant eye sockets? I think we need one at our house.

    1. It really is the weirdest thing ever. As soon as I find my camera, I will put a picture of it up on the Facebook page.

      1. I almost googled “chicken with empty eye sockets”. Wait. I’m gonna do that.

  23. Have you seen the movie “Babies”?? If not, you must!! A documentary with almost no dialogue about 4 babies in the first year of life in 4 different parts of the world. I LOVED the juxtaposition of how many toys the American and Japanese kids had to the African kid having a stick and some dirt.

    1. Yes! We watched it while we were trying to get pregnant. That is, during the several months it took us to conceive, not at the exact moment of conception. Because eww.

      1. Hey, whatever floats your boat.

  24. It brings me joy to see your screenshot of your FP next to mine! Or, rather, my fake-friend Bill’s.

    Toys. Oh, dear heavens. We have way too many of them, but I have an obsession about buying cool ones at thrift stores. It’s a sickness.

    1. I know! Freshly Pressed is always fun when someone you know is going through it at the same time. It’s like you’re fake celebrity buddies!

      Writing this post was the kick in the pants I needed to just bite the bullet and sell a ton of her stuff at a baby consignment store. I’m going tomorrow morning. Wish me luck that they take all of it!

      1. I’m unloading at an annual consignment sale. Because if I sell those, I get to buy more toys! I mean…

  25. hahahah very funny. Great blog, great writing style. Glad I found you through FP! Yay for toddler girls and the midwest!

    1. Yay! I’m glad you ventured over from the FP post! Welcome! And I agree with you; toddler girls really are the best ;D

  26. Congrats on being freshly pressed. You should read “walden” by Thoreau. The theme of the book is less is more.

    1. I read Walden when I was in college and I absolutely adored it. I really ought to give it a reread. Thoreau’s lessons should be revisited often.

  27. Congratulations, Mrs. Em!! So proud of you. You very much deserve it. At our house, toys ARE the flooring. Why? Because with all boys, they bound out the door with a bowl, in one piece of clothing to go whittle the bark off a stick to make into a spear – all before their cave mother can grunt at them to pick up their toys. I should have thrown out the toy and just saved the box, tee hee!

    1. Thank you! We should just let them become feral. At least then, they’ll uncover their innate survival skills. ;D

  28. Emily, congratulations on the well-deserved accolade! I’d FP just about everything you post. When Sweet Pea, my niece, who is now pushing 19, was a tot, her uncle (aka, my brother) gave her a six-pack of toy eggs. You’d twist open the egg and inside was a shape. Fun for all to open and close incessantly. I gave Sweet Pea a plastic 6-piece pizza complete with pan and spatula. My sister spent a year of her life finding egg parts all over the house. but the pizza will always hold a special place in the little that’s left of my sister’s mind. Sweet Pea tried to nuke it in the microwave. Fortunately, heated plastic pizza stinks. At least C is having a good time, even if you are her personal clean-up crew.

    1. It’s funny the way little people’s minds work. She had a pizza, so of course she put it in the microwave. Where else does it go? My mom loves to tell the story of when I was a baby and I had a large Humpty Dumpty stuffed toy. I apparently realized that it was the exact same shape as the toilet bowl, and so that’s where I deposited it. There were no such thing as toilet locks back then.

  29. Ms. Roberts · · Reply

    First of all, I really enjoy your writing. How’s that parenting blog job opportunity?
    Ee-gads, kids and toys. I think that’s the second reason why I don’t have any children! She will grow out of it. Can I suggest something? I don’t know how old she is, but can you teach her to put away her own toys?

    1. Thank you! That means a lot to me that you say that; I love writing, so hearing that people enjoy my words is a huge reward for me ;D

      She’s right at 15 months old, so she is slowing honing her cleaning-up skills. If I ask her, she’ll place her blocks back in the box they go in and clap, but she will then dump them all out again and then wander over to another toy. She doesn’t quite get the idea of cleaning up for the sake of tidiness just yet.

      1. Ms. Roberts · · Reply

        Your welcome! You have magnificent prose. Don’t stop writing.

        She’s almost there! Well, she is still very little, thankfully, she’ll grow out of it if she is already learning to put her toys away.

  30. I blame the aunts. Seriously. Toys are a conspiracy cooked up by aunts. I have 5 of them, and therefore 15 first cousins. You’d think that would mean that we wouldn’t have baby showers or gifts at birthday parties, and instead it would be all hand me downs, all the time. But no. Do hand me downs, and the aunts will show up with additional gifts anyway.

    1. So much truth there! Every single thing my husband and I buy our daughter is bought from thrift stores and baby consignment stores. We don’t even have a large extended family, and yet they always buy her the shiny new things. Those toys multiply! It’s a conspiracy, I tell ya.

  31. You are hilarious and brilliant my internet friend and I’l have to read that FP post (I’m all about recognition too and since I haven’t been getting any of the FP kind, I’ve decided to pretend it’s not there. My psyche thanks me every day) I’m sure it is so well deserved!

    Couldn’t agree more with regards to toys and puzzles, legos, utensils etc. My life is a Sisyphean labour GIF.

  32. I am taking a WHOLE day off from work just to go through the toys. A whole day – a vacation day… to sort through TOYS!

  33. I don’t even have children and I empathise. Friends with children visited recently and the 3 year old got hold of some stickers. Now there are sparkly hearts all over the window, the fireplace, our phones and the remote control. Interesting…..

  34. laurenemmot · · Reply

    Reblogged this on Small Town Kansas Girl and commented:
    I laughed way to hard at this post, mainly because it’s SO FREAKING TRUE!! It seems like all my mom does all day is pick up toys, and lately it seems like vast majority of things that I pick up around the house is toys. Now I understand why my mom does NOT like toys anymore….

    -Mrs. Holmes

  35. laurenemmot · · Reply

    My mom always complains to me about how much she hates picking up toys, and I laughed so hard when I read your post because it reminds me a lot of what she complains to me about! I do not have any kids of my own, but I feel like I do because I am the oldest of seven kids, and I can totally relate to this post, it seems like toys have taken over our house! Haha!

    I started my own blog recently, and I am enjoying reading your blog, it’s giving me inspiration for my blog! I’m definitely going to enjoy reading more of your posts. I’d really appreciate it if you’d check out my blog, here’s the link to it.

    1. Haha! Thanks for reading. I swear that toys multiply while we’re sleeping.

  36. Great article

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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