Anyone with children will know that kids toys love to make noise, especially cheap electronic noise. The books sing. The tables sing. The chairs sing. Everything sings these horrible, tinny, little songs that you can’t escape. They’re awful. I hate them. They are a one-way ticket on the express train to Headache Town for me.
I hate them so much, in fact, that when they come into the house via some well-meaning gift-giver I make them quietly disappear as soon as the children have wandered away from them. As my sister once said to me, gifts are meant to be given and after that it’s up to you what you do with them. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but that’s the gist.
However, one such toy found it’s way into our lives and made an impression on me.
When Penny and Bea were just becoming mobile, they were absolutely obsessed with the television remote. They are still obsessed with it, of course, but now they know what it does. Back then it was just a fun thing to hold on to that was always hanging around and being used by the grown-ups. The obsession got so serious that we had to hide the remotes out of their field of view or they would get upset at not being able to play with them.
Sarah or I—not sure who—had the brilliant idea of getting a couple of toy remotes for them to mess around with so the real remotes might lose their fascination. Sarah found one on Bezo’s store and it arrived shortly thereafter. The girls were happy and the toy became a beloved thing. Here is a photo of it.
The remote features a big 3 stage switch on the side to set it to off, low volume, or high volume. At first, this switch confounded the children. I could set it to off and be sure that I wouldn’t hear the beeping and chirping and music it polluted the room with. Gradually, as their fine motor skills developed, they learned to switch the thing on and had no reservation to set it all the way to high volume. Of course! Things are so much more fun when they are very loud, right?
And so, despite our valiant efforts to keep the thing set to off, we became acquainted with the music it made. At first you try to ignore it, let it fade into the din of two small children. Eventually, though, it starts to cut through the noise, it starts to insert itself into your consciousness, and you become aware of what it’s saying.
Most of the sounds the remote makes are pretty regular. Calling out the numbers. Stating the functions of the buttons. A song about how distressed the singer is that there isn’t more time in the day to watch television. You know, normal stuff.
Fortunately for you, you’re reading this in a multimedia format, so I can share the sounds with you. Here’s a sampling of what I am talking about.
There’s one song, however, that plays any time you turn the remote on. You hear it a lot because the kids are always switching the thing on and off. Then you start to really listen to the words the woman is singing from the remote. And then you realize that the lyrics are pretty weird. Like, seriously weird.
It’s great. And by “great” I mean “distressing”.
Seemingly innocuous, right? But really pay attention to what the words say.
Let’s gather round to pretend We’re going to enjoy some TV shows With our friends
Are we pretending to watch TV shows with our real friends? Or are we pretending to watch TV shows with our imaginary friends? Are we pretending to enjoy TV shows we are actually watching? What’s going on in this song? Is it calling for us to deceive our friends while we watch TV with them?
What adult thought this song was a good idea? Who paid so little attention that this thing is embedded in who knows how many toy remotes floating around the world?
The children will never understand the nuance if they even process the lyrics at all. But I’ve been thinking about this song for like a year and a half now. Maybe longer? I can’t figure it out. I don’t think I ever will figure it out.
But now I have shared it with you so it can take root in your mind. You’re welcome.
Listen to me reading you this post right here.