By Sarah Bessey
This is the worst toy in the world.
This is The Cat Piano or Kitty Keyboard, depending on which toy retailer you use.
Here’s the preface: I hate toys with batteries, toys that make noise. I have very little tolerance for toys that make noise because my children themselves ARE SO INCREDIBLY LOUD. I don’t need something else competing for the prize of driving me crazy with noise levels, so almost all of our toys are without batteries. (And usually if there IS something with batteries in the house, it’s a good bet my sister bought it for the tinies because she thinks they’re deprived and just likes to mess with me.)
We don’t have a lot of toys in the house. I prefer for things not to look like Toys R Us barfed in the family room and I like to make sure they know the fun of anticipation and appreciating what they do have. We typically have toys that are 90% kid, 10% toy – meaning that they have to actually play with it, make it do something, come up with something interesting or imaginative. Toys like blocks, musical instruments, dress up, legos, animals etc. They don’t do anything so the kid has to participate instead of just being entertained.
But one day, when I was feeling soft, the children took advantage of me at the Zellers. We were there to pick up a card or something and, because it was pouring rain, we went back to the toy department for a bit. Well, they fell on this cat piano like long lost friends.
And friends, I relented. After all, it was recommended by Parents! The sticker said so! Clearly this was a superior toy!
I bought them the cat piano.
The cat piano features a keyboard with two octaves. It also plays 20 songs but they have a “cat” twist to them, changing the words of the Hokey Poky and BINGO to reflect a cat aesthetic “How much is that kitty in the window…MEOW MEOW!” There are automatic beat buttons as well. It’s like a dance club beat. You can change the sound of the piano to a banjo or an organ or (and no, I’m not kidding) A MEOW. So every key plays a MEOW. And it has a volume button and also a tempo button so you can make the songs and the beats extra, extra loud and fast.
Here is what I envisioned: introducing my children to music, having a toy that they could dance and play songs or have fun with.
Here is what happened: They turned on the disco beat, increased the tempo and the volume to Level 10, and then turned on the songs and THEN turned on the Meow function and banged away on it. Not one, not two, not three but FOUR LOUD THINGS ALL AT ONCE at the loudest possible volume and the fastest possible tempo and the most irritating songs. And they fought over it. One couldn’t play with it without the other dissolving into tears and tantrums.
It was awesome.
After a week, I’m not ashamed to say, I hid it. They found it. I hid it again. They found it again. This went on and on. Then my friend from Texas came for a visit with her four children. The cat piano was an enormous hit with everyone so now there were six children bickering over who got to bang the keys and increase the tempo and then howl along with it. I poured out my heart to my friend about how I. Can’t. Handle. That. Stupid. Piano. and she laughed and said it would fit right in at her place. (She is much cooler and more laid back than I am, clearly.)
An evil plot was hatched.
The day that they were leaving, when my friend was finished loading the Suburban and her kids were getting buckled in, I snuck into the house and found the cat piano (it was right where I had hidden it, the day before, my nerves at this point being completely shot to pieces). I trotted out to the Suburban and went to her two oldest boys. “Hey guys! Do you want to take the cat piano with you?!”
And, bless their hearts, their eyes lit up and they said YES YES YES YES! WOW! THANKS! My friend gave me a knowing eye but laughed.
Her son crowed out, “We can play this ALL THE WAY BACK TO TEXAS!”
Note: I live in Canada. That is one long drive.
And I felt a bit guilty, I admit, but not enough that I took that dratted cat piano back in the house.
Thankfully, my tinies are young enough that they didn’t really notice. Now, if I’d removed the dress up clothes or the play-doh, it would be a different matter but I got away with it. Also, thankfully, my friend has a good sense of humour and is quite forgiving
Tell me I’m not alone: What toys do you hate that your children adore?
Sarah blogs at Emerging Mummy.