This past Thursday we had a great time as a family. We give our children gifts on Thanksgiving instead of "Christ-mass." (But that's a topic for a whole other blog post.) All the boys except for our one year old got tools. These aren't toys, but "real man" tools. So, they spent most of the day on Friday hammering and sawing into a 2 x 4 I bought them to go along with it. We gave my oldest daughter a book set as reading is one of her favorite things to do. I spent a couple of hours on Saturday working with my second oldest daughter on the doll house we got her. It looks like it may be quite a project, but it'll be some good time together. Oh, and the baby boy got a cloth book that he can stuff in his mouth to his heart's delight without us having to worry about him actually eating it (like all the other books). But the subject of this blog post is the gift we gave our youngest daughter. One of the best gifts we gave our oldest daughter when she was about 2 or 3 was a play kitchen. Little girls love to put the plastic food in bowls and in the skillet and play like they are cooking like Mommy. Brittney's kitchen lasted for years until we finally broke down and threw it away earlier this year. It had gotten really dirty and had been relegated to the back yard rather than the girls' bedroom. So, my wife and I took the opportunity this Thanksgiving to get our almost 3 year old a new play kitchen. We had a hard time selecting it. I liked the wooden ones, but they were quite a bit more expensive than the plastic ones. Plus, the one that Brittney enjoyed so much was plastic. So, we finally decided on the Little Tikes Cook 'N Learn Interactive Kitchen. On the side of the box it advertised that it would make sounds and tell your child, "Good job!" This certainly wasn't a selling point for me. Who of you has a "real" kitchen that talks to you? Hmm...maybe your microwave is fancy and will tell you "Food's done!" or something...but even then I bet this is pretty rare. I know our kitchen never talks back to us. Well, my objective was to get something that didn't look like it would fall apart in a week, but was still reasonably priced. So, we bought it in spite of, rather than because of, the "interactive" feature. After a struggle of about an hour putting it together (there's at least one design flaw that I found!), we were ready for my little girl to start playing with it. I was going to just leave the batteries out of it, but after persuasion from family I succumbed and brought the beast to life with 3 AA batteries. I must admit the first minute or two was pretty neat. The little play egg "sizzles" when you put it in the frying pan on the burner. (OK...so our real kitchen doesn't talk...but it does sizzle from time to time! :-) ) But then the talking started. I didn't hear anything harmful at first, so (here's my mistake) I left her to her play while I focused my attention on another child. Within a few minutes my wife noticed that the kitchen seemed to complain of work stating something like, "If I have to work I'll go berserk!" or something to that effect. OK. Strike one. But it didn't stir me enough to go shut it down based on just that. But, the last straw happened just a short while later. My oldest son comes in and tells me, "Daddy. The kitchen just said, 'I swear!'" Well, that's a no-no in our family. There are scriptural examples of swearing, but to do it flippantly is obviously wrong.
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Yet, this arrogant little kitchen decides that it knows better than me what to teach my daughter. (Or more accurately, the big whigs at Little Tikes think they know better than parents what to teach children.) I went into the room and had my son show me how to make it say the offending language. The kitchen has this thing about rhyming. The "berserk" rhymed with work. So this phrase went something like, "I swear, it's a pear!" At that point, the batteries came out and haven't been back in. Now, some people think I'm extreme or overreacting on this, but I am determined not to have my little girl running around the house repeating "I swear!" to her brothers and sisters.
So here's the plan...we spent $79.99 on this "tutor." I think I'll take the silly thing apart, package it back in the box and take it back. Then I'll fork over another $40 to buy the wooden kitchen that doesn't "say" anything. Better yet, maybe I can get those boys with the new tools to make her one! :-)