Hey, Baby

Oh my giddy shit. There I was last week, bumbling about in Smyths, the toy store, when I came across something so hideous that I had to regain my composure by rocking back n forth in a hastily constructed nest of Duplo bricks. Sod the toy guns, the knee-deep pots of finger paint and 1000-piece baked bean jigsaws because what did it for me were the baby doll shelves.

Jesus, turning into that particular aisle of fuckwittery was the equivalent of being accosted by a machete wielding Gina Ford. It was rammed with gawping plastic babies, dressed in sickening shades of pink and blue. If Willy Wonka’d become a pro-lifer he couldn’t have done a better job.  And of course, you know exactly who this lot was aimed at.

You know that quote about the NHS taking care of you from the cradle to the grave? Well in this instance you could apply it to the horrific indoctrination of the nation’s females. Fuck luring girls into engineering or space travel or Olympic sport. All of that receives a kick in the knackers from the moment a child of the female persuasion skips along said aisle.

Apart from the fact that seeing all these dolls made me buy my daughter, Kraken Junior, a tool box instead – someone has to redress the lack of balance in a girl’s life – it also made me realise how hysterically inaccurate baby dolls actually are. The boxes are covered in bollocks about the dolls being just like ‘real’ ones but come the fuck on. Real? So not only are the globe’s manufacturers getting a head start on telling girls what is socially acceptable of them, they’re also screaming the message that looking after babies is a bundle of fun.

Well, I beg to differ. Looking after a baby is about as fun as having your toenails removed by a JCB driven by Helen Keller. But of course, that’s a big secret until you’re knocked up and it’s too late to do anything about it. That’s when you realise how deranged the manufacturers are for claiming that their dolls’ mewlings are the same as real babies having six hour rages over colic.

That’s why I propose showing the nation’s girls what babies are really like by providing them with dolls so accurate that they’ll actually come with their own charts for diagnosing PND. So not only will said dolls have faces like over-ripe sprouts, when they’re opened on Christmas morn they’ll be accompanied by searing pain and quite possibly the chance that the recipient will shit on the carpet.

Following that the plastic baby will be stared at until someone says, “What in the fuck do we do now?” and the recipient of this ‘gift’ will be wheeled into a room full of other kids with dolls until she is deprived of so much sleep that she starts hallucinating. That’s when things start to go downhill because the baby will start feeding and shitting so voraciously that the exhausted recipient’s lungs will start to fill with swallowed tears. But as this doll has been given to her, and no one else, it is only she who has responsibility for it.

Yes, the little girl will turn the doll over searching for the ‘off’ switch but to no avail. That’s when she’ll turn to the instruction booklet in a desperate search for sanity, freedom and peace. Problem is that the booklet will be six inches thick and so loaded with instructions, suggestions and assumptions that it’ll fell her long before the colicky screams of the doll does. And the troubleshooting page? Well, that’s been left blank.

So how’s that for a doll that drives girls to succeed? I reckon it could be a winner. Spend a Crimbo night and Boxing Day with one of these and girls across the land will be joining NASA’s space programme in their fevered droves. So perhaps baby dolls do have a place in a girl’s life after all. Just make sure you have a nest of Duplo bricks to hand to let her recover from it.

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18 Responses to Hey, Baby

  1. Sarah Miles says:

    I come out in hives whenever I have the misfortune to visit Smyths or Toys R Us.

    I really do think the days of pushing a pretend baby in a pram ‘just like mother’ are well and truly over. I have 3 kids and none of them have ever had the smallest interest in baby dolls, having witnessed the reality of it all. Do kids really like them?

    Worse, for me, are the freaky Bratz dolls and their kind. Hideous on every level and in everything they represent.

    I do love your posts.

    • The Kraken says:

      Thank you m’darlin’! I can’t understand what makes girls like baby dolls either but these shops are rammed with the things. It makes me want to weep.

  2. sarah says:

    hmmmm…i have to agree with you on some level. i think the stereotype of girl/boy toys is shocking in both directions.

    But I have four girls and they have all loved baby dolls. But then they have loved lots of other stuff too. My eldest girl still loves the baby doll she has but when she grows up she wants to be an and athlete. No mention of being a mummy with a baby!
    We haven’t gone over board with dollies. Im not a fan of the ones that can supposedly ‘do’ lots of stuff. I think my girls (the older ones at least) know that raising a baby is a lot different to having a baby doll.

    I think its a question of balance. Kids learn from copying and mostly kids (whether boys or girls) see their parents being parents so its probably natural that they will pick up the behaviour that is easy for them to follow.

    So i think the actual ‘playing’ with dolls is okay. But i do agree with your point about the toys shops being overtly stereotypical and it takes quite a strong character )as a kid) to go against the flow and i think that is NOT a good thing.

    Interesting read though and Sarah i SO agree with you about Bratz.. thing that bothers me most about them is the name though!

    • The Kraken says:

      Thanks m’darling. I agree that it is probably a question of balance. My concern is that girls suffer such stereotyping from such an early age that baby dolls just add to it. Women are often defined by whether they are in/ fertile, asked early on if they’d like to have kids, asked upon marriage when they’ll start a family, asked when they’ll have ‘number two’ as soon as the first child is born…the pressure is endless and I think that baby dolls can kick off the pressure even earlier. It sounds if your girls are balanced enough to know what’s what, though, and for that I commend you. One little girl is killing me so fuck knows what four of ‘em would do.

  3. Andy says:

    Right with you as usual. I hadn’t realised how bad this is until I went shopping in Hamley’s a few years back. Once I had selected a fire engine for my nephew complete with annoying siren and ability to squirt water (my sister loves me) I wandered into the sickly pink nightmare of the ‘girls’ section. What struck me at the time was the lack of imagination that goes into these toys. How do you play creatively with a toy ironing board? I want to get excited about the toys I buy and I don’t understand why these so many of these toys are popular.

    I also read this blog post last week which you might find interesting.

    • The Kraken says:

      Quite! I can’t bring myself to buy Kraken Junior toys that are so fucking passive. If I saw here standing in the corner of a room bent over a mini ironing board I would actually weep. And I love that link too. I think I want to marry her.

  4. Kim says:

    I don’t have anything against dolls per se – I loved playing with dolls as a child, and I think they can be lovely if you’re into imaginative play. But gender stereotyping of toys seem to have become more entrenched, rather than less. I think what’s sad is that you were able to buy your daughter a toolset, and probably not too many people would raise eyebrows. But try buying a doll or pram for a little boy! I still remember years ago at playgroup a mum telling her two-year old son off for pushing a toy pram around the hall. What did she think was going to happen to him?

    • The Kraken says:

      Funny thing is that I have just been chatting to a friend who has had similar issues over buying her little girl a pair of Gruffalo slippers. She had to buy them in the boys section of Sainsbury’s because the girl’s section was full of ‘girly’ motifs. I just don’t understand it.

  5. Heather V says:

    Mrs Kraken, Agree that stereotyping has gone OTT of late, but I have read of studies done on children to see whether their choice of plaything would change if they were not ‘conditioned’ a certain way…and the results were that generally the girls opted to play with the doll-like toys and the boys didn’t. Genetics will play a part in this. In general a nurturing gene will be built into the female of most species. You see it in animals…and they were not presented with pink toy animals to play with when they were young! Its just nature ensuring that the race survives.
    As for your experience of bringing up a baby, you need to get over it. It has its ups and downs but in the grand scheme of things, its not the most stressful thing in life. Having said that, your description is most entertaining to read (as ever)

    • The Kraken says:

      Ta dharlink! Funny thing is that Kraken Junior has leaned towards pink as much as we try to change that so I guess genetics are involved somehow. It’s frigging killing me. And it’s the same with bringing up a baby. I don’t think I will ever get over it and I reserve the right to foam and froth until Kraken Junior herself shoves me into a home to shit my days away. That’d be any time now I reckon.

  6. Kim says:

    Kraken, you would love a story someone put on Mumsnet (sorry!) It was a woman who’d been in a toyshop and witnessed another mum buying a toy zebra for her small daughter. The daughter had picked up a black-and-white zebra, and the mother had made her put it down and take the pink zebra instead. Because, you know, the black-and-white one was for boys…

    PS I’m sure you know this, but in the 19th century, the vogue was to dress baby boys in pink and baby girls in blue. It switched over in the 1920s, apparently.

    • The Kraken says:

      Get. The. Fuck. Out. Kim, that is astounding! I’d have wrestled her to the ground (the mother, that is) and called the police.

  7. I think I just found my new favourite blog to read. My daughter – now 18 at Uni – so take heart m dear, they do grow in n piss off eventually,( warning though because they rip your heart out of your chest n take it with them ) was bought Baby Annabel by me ( for me ) ! My daughter was wearing Ethel Austin’s finest, Baby Annabel’s outfits were £20 a throw! Wtf was wrong with me??? That child er I mean doll had a swing, a slide and a mini effing roundabout! In fact she still does, upon the loft. I ‘lent’ my daughter my Tiny Tears, until she got Baby Annabel! Dear Gawd I needed/need help!!!
    Baby Annabel and all her Baby Annabelly stuff are pristine because she was IGNORED!
    My kids much preferred Playmobil stuff! I’m aware that I’m waffling now, so I will bring this comment to a close.

    • The Kraken says:

      They do leave home? Oh thank fuck for that. And I love your tale of Baby Annabel. She sounds like a very costly acquisition. Ebay her, before she steals any more of your cash.

  8. NOOOOOOO *clutches chest in an overly dramatic way* sell the baby?? She’s not mine to sell!!! HA! She’s cocooned in her exquisite snowgirl outfit in her Baby Annabel Moses Basket! This was a first edition doll. She’s ‘the precious’!!! I am really not that bad at hoarding but the doll stays! Think I’m going to blog about toys next – the ones that I had and the ones my friends had that I wanted! Cheers for the inspiration!

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