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Realistic dolls! Realistic food! Realistic appliances! I was browsing on a toy retailer’s website today and stumbled into the pretend play section of “Gifts for Girls”. What is the marketing intent of these items here? Is it to seemingly prepare little girls for “real” life?

If that’s the case, I fear these children are in for a rude awakening. Honestly, these toys are going to need to be tweaked just a bit to claim any kind of authenticity. I’ve taken the liberty of noting some of the differences between the “toy” version and the “real” version of the following items . . . 

1. Baby Alive Sweet Tears Baby Doll


Toy version: This little girl cries tears and her nose lights up to let kids know when she needs a tissue. There is a switch on her back so you can choose who she’s speaking to, “Mommy” or “Daddy”.

Real version: This little girl also cries tears (a lot) and pretty much always needs a tissue, due to attending preschool three days a week. However, there is no switch on her back to let you choose who she is speaking to. Therefore, this little girl will incessantly question, whine and complain to “Mommy” exclusively, even when “Daddy” is in far closer proximity to her. I predict the scientist who is able to correct this faulty wiring will win the Nobel Peace Prize. That is, of course, if the voting panelists are all “Mommies”.

2. Learning Resources New Sprouts Healthy Dinner


Toy version:  This play food set features grilled chicken breast, grilled salmon filet, sweet potato, asparagus bundle, lettuce leaves, tomato, cucumber, and carrot crinkles.

Real version:  Your average preschooler may play with the above-mentioned food items . . . but there’s no way they are ever going to eat them. Let me see the set that includes chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, Goldfish, and ketchup. Lots and lots of ketchup. That’s prep for the real world, kids.

3. Just Like Home Stand Mixer


Toy version:  “Complete with lights, sound and real working beaters, your little ones will have hours of fun preparing their next big event!”

Real version: “Complete with lights, sound, and real working beaters, you will receive one of these as a wedding gift, and it will take up space in your kitchen cabinet for the next twenty years, where it will remain unused. You will prepare for your next big event by swinging by the Costco bakery on your way home from driving your children to nine different activities/appointments.”

4. Play Go My Light Up Vacuum Cleaner


Toy version: “Play time and cleaning time are now one and the same. Children can simply push it to light it up with glitter flakes, creating a sensory whirlwind that’s engaging and exciting.”

Real version:  I don’t even know where to begin. On what planet are “play time” and “cleaning time” the same? Maybe the pretend vacuum doesn’t require you to cut out all the gross hair from the bottom rollers every month? And “glitter flakes” create a sensory whirlwind that’s engaging and exciting”? The only sensory whirlwind created when glitter is brought into my home is one of maniacal rage. Seriously, if you get my child a birthday present that contains glitter in any form, I will return the favor by buying your child a 10,000 piece bead set for Christmas. Not to mention that no vacuum can ever really pick up all the glitter. You pretty much have to move out to escape it completely.

5. Melissa and Doug Pretend-To-Spend Wallet Play


Toy version: “Includes 14 bills ($1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100) two coupons, gym membership card, library card, and charge card.”

Real version: Sorry, kids, but unless you work as a casino dealer, you will probably never have that much cash on you again. Your two coupons will most likely be expired. Your gym membership will not be expired but it might as well be for how often you get to go. The library card you actually did use, until your toddler used the last book you borrowed as a teething toy and now you are too embarrassed to go back. Hang onto that charge card though, you will need it . . every single day.

6. Double Trolley Carrier


Toy version: “Designed for going down the street or around the world.”

Real version: Public Service Announcement: If you put your babies in a closed suitcase with a plastic window to “go down the street or around the world” you will be arrested and justifiably end up in prison for an indeterminate amount of time. You might want to purchase a stroller instead.

7. Superhero Cape


Toy version:  “Your little girl can save the world in this pink cape.”

Real version: One day, many years from now, though you may not save the world, you most likely will have superpowers. You will be able to run faster than a speeding bullet . . . to save your toddler from jumping naked into the mall fountain. You will gain superhuman strength . . . such as the ability to push three children uphill in an overloaded Costco cart, and fling 50 pounds of dog food into your trunk, without breaking a sweat. You will develop superhuman senses . . . capable of knowing when the teenager standing behind you is rolling his eyes or fudging the truth. You will be able to leap tall nightstands in a single bound, and magically appear in another room (with a bucket) in mere seconds, upon hearing the words, “my tummy hurts” at 3 a.m.

Yes, this is the one toy on this list that may well prepare you for a grown-up reality. Be advised, you may not always wear your fancy pink cape. I’m sorry to tell you, you may mostly wear old sweats with spit-up stains. But fancy cape or not, a superhero you will be. Your superhero moniker, which you will hear approximately 239 times a day for 18 years, will be, simply, “MOM”.

Originally published on the author’s blog

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Janene Dutt

Janene Dutt is the creator of I Might Be Funny. Her kids once asked her 159 questions in six hours and she nearly lost her mind. She suffers from Pediculophobia, the fear of lice. When she’s not writing, you can find her combing through her family’s hair. Check out her adventures at https://www.facebook.com/imightbefunny/.

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