Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Not What They Seem . . .

Well it seems that it is somehow getting round to that time of year again. Surely it was just yesterday I was having fish finger picnics in the garden and slapping suncream on the Tots' noses at every given opportunity? But remarkably, the nights do appear to be getting darker and the weather annoyingly colder and Little Tot does seem to be staging regular stand-offs in the kitchen about which hat, glove and scarf set he will wear. Winter is upon us.

And we all know what that means. Christmas is coming.

At a massive five years old, Big Tot certainly knows what that means too. Time to write the Christmas list. Time to scrawl in laboured, shaky letters next to ripped-out, glued-on pictures from the Argos catalogue and expect Santa to know exactly what he's on about. Angry Bird costume. Tardis play tent. Robot head. iPad that's not Daddy's. Hah. Good luck with that one, Santa.

But I have been reflecting lately, on the fact that, like many aspects of parenting, the toys that inevitably appear around Christmas time and birthdays often do not live up to expectation. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that some of them have the extraordinary capacity to make family life a living hell. I exaggerate not.

Let's look at the evidence:

Woody from Toy Story
The hubby and I bought a talking Woody doll for Big Tot when he was a wee nipper at just two years old. Fifty precious pounds of our very own money was spent on this beautiful abstract promise that Big Tot would inevitably make life-long buddies with said doll and perhaps live out a life in enchanting parallel with Andy in the Toy Story movie.

What actually occurred was really rather disturbing. Woody, as we all know, has a hat. A cowboy hat. A cowboy hat that Big Tot insisted, nay demanded, should not only be permanently on, but also permanently straight. If the hat tipped even to the tiniest, jauntiest angle, Big Tot would scream. If it came off, Big Tot would scream louder. Now I consider myself to be a very resourceful mother and thought my string-attached-to-hat technique would be a winner. But no. That was an alien component Big Tot was simply not willing to accept which he demonstrated by biting it off.

I think that angle is ever so slightly off

I was tempted on many, many occasions to Super Glue the hat on and be done with it but feared that would induce a swift turnaround in Big Tot's expectations for Woody. They had a complex thing going on and I figured I was best kept out of it.

Luckily, it all came to a gruesome end a year or two later when Little Tot came along and decapitated Woody. Job done.

Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story
Do you see a theme forming here?

Anyway, thinking Buzz Lightyear would be the perfect pal for Woody and perhaps distract Big Tot from the ongoing hat issue, we bought a second-hand Buzz on eBay. All was going well . . . until Buzz dared to bend his arm in a particularly tough duel with a plastic dinosaur. Oh no, no, no, Buzz. Didn't you know? Your arms must remain permanently straight at ALL times.

Right, where's the sellotape?

Buzz didn't know this. Mummy didn't know this. But Big Tot clearly thought the future of the entire world depended on it and went wildly into tantrum land whenever Buzz's poor, tired arm fancied a rest. I rode this storm for THREE MONTHS people, before the sellotape was out and those arms were taped straight good and proper. A woman can only take so much.

Harry Potter's Wand
No, that is not a euphemism.

Big Tot's Harry Potter phase seemed to last forever so surely it would be safe for Santa to bring him a swooshing, light-up wand? Surely?

Such an innocent looking thing

Did you know it doesn't have an actual 'off' switch? Did you know that you have to leave it alone for approximately ten minutes before it stops lighting up intermittently and making that bloody swooshing noise over and over again? And did you further know that a toddler simply CANNOT understand this and that they will just pick it up again and again furiously searching for an 'off' switch without realising that they are exacerbating things by giving it the swooping motion that it damn well wants? This is what you call war.

Postman Pat Motorbike
Postman Pat does not sit straight in it.

Hungry Caterpillar Book
Action figures do not fit through the holes in the pages.

Fireman Sam Ladder
Fireman Sam does not stay on it.

Play Dough
It does not fit in ear hole.

Soldier Action Figure
Back pack does not open

Plastic Rocket
It has a voice that counts down the blast-off when surely the natural order of numbers is 1-2-3-4-5?

So, I think it is plain to see that, where a toddler is concerned, pretty much every toy has the potential to disrupt the happiest of families. I therefore, rest my case.

God only knows what wonders await us this year. What with Big Tot wanting to know the inner workings of everything from Darth Vader's helmet to my actual mind, and Little Tot's tendency to lose, destroy and generally decapitate things, we are in for a treat.

Go well,


Explore Abi's superb range of happy living products for you and your toddler at thecoolrulecompany.co.uk

Follow Abi and The Cool Rule Company on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-the-minute parenting observations and witty little bits of wisdom.


  1. I love reading these blogs. Big Tot and Little Tot are so funny.... so's mum when I think about it! ;)

  2. Ah last Christmas I visualised similar issues with my little tot grandson . So I got him a huge carboard box and put some clothes to grow in to in it . Then I filled it with balloons and wrapped it in Christmas paper. Job was a good un. He spwnt longer playing with his box than anything else it was a den, a boat , a car, great for peep and it cost me nothing . The balloons lasted all over Christmas and were huge hit too and the clothes - gift receipt if required. Problem solved for grannies with little tots !

  3. Thanks guys . . . so glad you enjoy reading. Brilliant idea Viv. Much better than paying insane amounts of money for huge hunks of plastic that just get broken anyway. I like your thinking!