Every year Christmas morning brings a parade of strange and annoying toys into our home. There are the skinny-creepy Monster High dolls (strange), whose hands and arms come off, and who have fins growing out of their legs; a Mouse Trap board game that evokes memories of childhood and will require my constant help in setting it up (it’s truly complicated = annoying); and a new book for Bennett, The Best Nest, that he will ask me to read to him 1,000 times in a row (annoying).
But the one gift that encompasses both these qualities — strange and annoying – has got to be Avery’s new Furby. What is a Furby, you ask? Let me acquaint you with our new unwelcome houseguest. Our purple Furby is a sort of interactive toy straight from the movie Honey, I Shrunk the Gremlin; that is to say it talks, moves a bit (not too much, thankfully), looks oddly like a gremlin-owl love child, and makes all manner of really loud squeaks and squawks that send Avery running to us to report on.
Avery: “My Furby just said, ‘Ee-tay!’ Guess what that means.”
Me: “Hmmm … I don’t know. Maybe, ‘I’m all done playing, please put me in the closet for a week?’”
Avery: “Silly Mommy! ‘Ee-tay’ is Furbish for ‘No way!’”
Yes, of course her Furby speaks “Furbish,” a made-up language that sounds like what the Star Wars aliens in the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine spoke before the bounty hunter blew them away: “O0-nye toh-loo wee-tee! Hahaha!” The grating noises make a tired mommy wish she had a phaser she could switch from ‘stun’ to ‘permanently silence,’ though that would make Avery bawl like Chewbacca.
Not long after Avery opened her Furby I received an e-mail from a friend whose daughter Zoe is one of Avery’s besties. The e-mail contained a picture attachment of one of Zoe’s Christmas gifts: a black Furby. By now you’ve guessed where this is going. Yes, Furby playdates will be a reality in 2013. “Ee-tay!” Yes way! Obviously the joke is on me.
What all this has illustrated rather glaringly is that not only do I not speak Furbish, I no longer speak kid (and also, after four hours, Avery speaks better Furbish than Spanish, the second language she’s been taking for the past four months). I don’t get the appeal of the Furby, the enchanting power it has over seven-year-old girls. The Furby box sums it up nicely: “Who your Furby becomes might surprise you!” it reads. The same can be said about your children.