I see you

When the twins were first home, we were given a talking dog toy. The dog was bigger than the babies put together, and was really meant for larger infants. It was cartoony, with big words printed on its ears, stomach, paws, etc. The premise is that the dog is interactive and helps babies learn nursery rhymes, songs and games.

Of course it was possessed and was bent on killing me in my sleep.

After getting this dog, which I still just refer to as “the dog toy,” I took it out of the packaging, which is when I first discovered its alarming intentions. The thing ostensibly has an “off” switch (with EVERY OTHER part of the dog serving as the “on” switch), but despite my best efforts, pressing the area that indicates “off” simply triggered a song and menacing giggles, followed by continued “on” mode.

I have a long-standing terror regarding talking toys. Teddy Ruxpin – the animated storyteller? I’d rather get my stories from something less horrifying, thank you. Chatty Cathy (AKA Talky Tina)? Not in my house. I’ve never seen a Chucky movie – because I know a thing or two about myself and I’m not going to create problems for myself – but I’m pretty sure I’d be scared witless around talking toys without Child’s Play introducing the idea.

The dog toy was engineered in exactly the wrong way – in my opinion, tinged as it is by fear – so that it was extra sensitive. Instead of needing a hearty squeeze on the paw to activate it, for example, simply sneezing in an adjoining room provided ample pressure. The night that I foolishly freed it from its packaging I put it in the nursery inside one of the cribs. The twins were still sleeping in our room at that point, but we were changing them in the night in the nursery.

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man, bake me a cake as fast as you can.

This is what I heard at 4:30 AM, drifting down the hall in a high-pitched sing-song voice. I lay as still as I could, except for where my heart was obviously beating out of my chest, willing myself to become smaller and a  less obvious target for murder. By sheer luck, I was lying on the side of the bed furthest from the door, so I would be able to use Bob as a human shield, if need be. Repeating in my head my mantra, “Don’t wake up, don’t need a diaper, don’t wake up, don’t need a diaper,” I found out that my children’s sleep telepathy with each other does not extend to me. Eleanor woke up. Eleanor needed a diaper.

I rationalize. I am a fully-grown adult. A toy has not yet killed me. It’s unlikely to happen. And it hasn’t spoken again in a while, so it’s probably gone back to sleep, or whatever it does.

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man, bake me a cake as fast as you can.

Oh god it’s awake. It’s awake and it’s going to kill me. At no point was I worried that it would be “after” the babies or Bob. But fear, I suppose, is not rational. I decided to face my fear head-on. Besides, I can’t in good conscience leave Eleanor unchanged. I gather her up and head down the hall. We don’t turn on the lights for diaper changes in the night (to encourage sleep), but there is a little night light in the nursery that sheds a small but steady glow. I put Eleanor on the changing table and decide to look into the crib at the dog toy. Maybe if I see it being just a toy, I’ll make it through this diaper change. I cautiously walk over and peep in, standing far enough away still that I have to crane my neck a little bit. It’s just sitting there, how I left it. I breathe a little easier and turn to change Eleanor. As I turn my back, I hear this:

Peek-a-boo, I see you.

I thought I was going to die and/or wet myself. I scooped Eleanor up, grabbed a diaper, the wipes, and the wet bag and was back in our bedroom in about 4 seconds. I sat up until I figured I could wake up Bob (6 AM was as long as I made it), told him that the dog toy had to go. He had to take the batteries out of it and take it out of the house. He had to take it to work or something but it couldn’t stay in the house another minute. I told him what happened and he understood. The dog toy was gone the same day. I could sleep again.

Until about a month later when someone brought the twins each a talking toy – one a replica dog toy and the other a bunny rabbit.

True story.




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