Friday, May 1, 2009

The Newt Says...What?

So Connor has this spinning ball toy-- the Spin and Sing Alphabet Zoo, by Leapfrog. It's one of his current favorites. This ball is covered in animals: one for each letter of the alphabet. It works kind of like that wheel on Wheel of Fortune, in that it has these little arrows that light up when you spin it, and then whatever letter the arrows end up on, that's the animal that the ball names and makes the sound of, provided you have it on the animal setting, of course (there's also a music and alphabet setting-- it's a ball of many talents).

Now, this is all well and good in theory, and is pretty useful for teaching the sounds of the more conventional animals, such as the cat, horse, lion, etc. The problem is that in order to have all of the letters matched with an animal, they started throwing in animals that apparently make very creative noises.

Such as the jellyfish, for example. Apparently jellyfish say "bloop bloop bloop." Who knew? The inchworm sounds just like a squeaky door. Toss in the newt (piano music), kangaroo (boing boing), rabbit (slightly higher pitched boing boing boing) umbrella bird (more piano music) and x-ray fish (ZOT!!) and you've got to wonder just how confused the poor tyke is going to be after playing with this for a while. I mean on trips to the zoo the elephant is right, and the horse is right, and the goat is making appropriately goaty noises, so why when we go to the aquarium is the jellyfish suspiciously silent?

There's also the fact that apparently in order to make the ball the right circumference, the manufacturers needed to add another letter to the alphabet. They decided to throw in some nice multicolored spirals. Maybe they're supposed to be pictographs or something-- educational, right? At any rate, whenever the arrows land on that "letter" you just get high-pitched giggling. Creepy.

I've taken the time to wax eloquent on this ball because I have had a lot of time to learn each and every sound these animals make. Connor now has a sign for "ball," and as a result we have this conversation somewhere around 200 times a day:

Connor: Ah ah ah AH AH AH AH!!!!
Me: What is it, sweetheart?
Connor: Ball! (he has pushed it onto the floor)
Me: How about a different toy? How about your keyboard?
Connor: No! Ball!
Me: How about I read you a book?
Connor: No! Ball!
Me: How about-
Me: (rolls eyes and gives him the ball)
Ball: The animals have something to say...jellyfish! Bloop bloop bloop! (falls on the floor)
Connor: Ah ah ah AH AH AH AH!!!!
Me: (bangs head against wall)

When I was a kid, I had this book by a guy named Al Perkins, called Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. It was about monkeys who drum on drums, and it contained the memorable lines:

"Goodbye, Jake!"
"Goodbye, Jack!"
"Dum ditty, dum ditty, WHACK WHACK WHACK!"

No doubt I owe my love of good poetry to this book. I made my parents read it every night for about two years, so I recognize exactly what's going with Connor right now. Revenge, that's what. My parents probably took my son aside and had a little chat with him over Christmas, and now I'm getting my just desserts. By this point I have a pretty good idea of why they kept trying to get me to read a different book-- as intriguing as those monkeys with drums were. I bet my parents are at home snickering about this right now. That's right, Granny and Papa. You can call him off. Or for pete's sake, at least switch him over to a toy that doesn't say "bloop bloop bloop." I'm hearing jellyfish in my dreams.



Sweet Lorraine said...

Yes indeed. By the time I came along, I had to fight tooth and nail to EVER get them to read me "Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb" (monkeys, monkeys, drumming on drums). I believe I had at least 2 books that I wore the folks out with. For dad, it was "Ickle Bickle Robin." He'll STILL wax poetic on how much he despises that book. For mom, it was "I'll Love You Forever" or whatever that disturbing book is where the mother reward her son for coloring on walls as a child, and then breaks into her son's house regularly once he's full grown and married. Yikes.

Connor's Mom said...

But Ickle Bickle Wobin Poo, you're too LIDDLE to fwy!

Gag me.


Sweet Lorraine said...

Well, yeah. I'm certainly not going to defend its literary merit, but I sure liked it at age 3.

leah said...

I, too, was addicted to Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. I bought the board book for my boys, but it is quite abridged. And I'm quite disappointed! I need to find the full version.

If Connor ever tires of the annoying Leapfrog ball toy, the learning drum is another one that he'll like and you'll hate. Nolan always turns it to Spanish, turns the volume up high, and proceeds to bang away. Possibly learning some of his letters, all in a foreign language.

Lin said...

I always hated Dr. Suess books for that reason--it was all weird rhyming sounds and words that made no sense and I hated reading them aloud. I was never sure why they were always so highly touted--there are so many other good kid reads that aren't so annoying. I cracked up about the stupid "animal" sounds. We taught Em the typical cow sounds, cat sounds, etc. and then spiced it up with "What does the viper say?". She would do a breathy hiss and we'd crack up. I guess we aren't as bad at the ball though. :)

Kara said...

hahah...we have the same alphabet ball ("spin spin a letter....") I thought their choices of animal sounds were quite as well! How about the "squoosh squoosh squoosh" sound the alligator makes?!? It sounds like wet chomping, but chomping on what???

Connor's Mom said...

leah: Try Half Price Books. That's where I found Connor's copy.

Lin: If you think you hate Dr. Seuss books NOW, try signing them! I swear you have to fingerspell twelve words a page.

Kara: With any luck, he's eating that stupid jellyfish.

Julia O'C said...

I think I loved the comments here almost as much as I loved the blog post!

gloria said...

Ha! I ALMOST got that exact toy for Elayna yesterday. I trolled up and down every toy aisle in KMart, the PX, and Target, trying to find that perfect something that was more stimulating and less annoying. I never did find something. And so... I didn't get that ball.

leah said...

Thanks for the tip- I'll check out the half price books site!

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