A tower of toys

It turns out one of the collective nouns for giraffes is a ‘tower’. I rather like it. It’s suitable and poetic.

I mention this as E seems to have gained an enormous number of giraffe toys for someone who is only six months old. I had a clear up in her room the other day and shifted some old clothes into the attic. In doing so I found six giraffes.

Most of these are hand me downs from a friend who gave us a lovely big bag of toys a few weeks ago. There’s a nice range – one giraffe has rings with feet attached, another is more sinister and has no legs but is just a stump of neck (with a neckerchief which is a nice touch, though probably doesn’t compensate for not having any legs). There’s a great one which you push up and down and the motion propels it along on its wheels. The others are rattles and E likes to chew them.

It’s not clear why so many children’s toys are giraffes. But the problem comes with the names. I do like a bit of alliteration for toy names and have run out of names for them all. There’s Gerald, Geoffrey, Giselle, Jonty and George. And then there’s Sophie.

You may have heard about Sophie Giraffe. She’s French. She’s in fact a French classic, having made her debut in the Parisian toy scene in 1961. She’s now very popular over here.

The thing is, and I’m a bit nervous about writing this, is that parents who have a Sophie get a bit evangelical about her. If you don’t know what she is and you listen to parents talk about her then you start to form an idea in your head about her. I did this. I heard a mother talk about Sophie and she sounded like a wonder toy, the answer to all parenting woes and a constant source of joy for their little one. Listening to them you started to wonder just how long it would be before Sophie solved world peace, fed the global population and halted climate change.

And then you get given a Sophie. She comes in a box with a birth certificate and everything. You look a bit surprised at her appearance and questions start to form in your brain. But you don’t voice them. Yet. You open the box and get her out, thinking all will be revealed about her amazing capabilities. It’s not.

Sophie is a squeaky rubber giraffe. The kind of thing that you might buy a dog you liked for a treat. That’s all she is. The marketing blurb tells you her markings help the baby’s eyesight to develop, that her rubber body is good for teething and that her squeak is entertaining but essentially she’s a glorified dog toy. I should point out that I love dogs and am happy to buy them any number of toys. But I wouldn’t spend £13.99 on one. Yes really. £13.99 for a rubber giraffe.

The thing is, E is teething at the moment (actually it feels like she’s been teething for months) and enjoys chewing Sophie in much the same way as she enjoys chewing on anything – rattles, Daddy’s watch, Mummy’s finger, carrot sticks, books, spoons, you name it – that offers relief. So what makes Sophie special? I have no idea. I’ve started to wonder if mine is deficient or if I’ve missed something really vital about it.

I’ve a feeling that the real problem is the type of parent who owns a Sophie. The Boden types with their Quinny pushchairs and Baby Gap jeans who spend hours making up party bags for their child’s first birthday purely to impress the other mums. If that’s the case then I understand why I’m pretty nonplussed by her. If that’s not the case and she really can solve world peace then can someone tell me so I can dig her out of the toy box?

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8 Responses to A tower of toys

  1. Martina Smith says:

    My daughter has a Sophie – does that make me a “Boden type with their Quinny pushchairs and Baby Gap jeans who spend hours making up party bags for their child’s first birthday purely to impress the other mums”. I don’t think so! Very judgemental. Buying a teething toy for a child I care about does not make me a villain! And maybe people who make party bags, again just care about their child and want to make an effort for their first ever birthday in the world.

    • basfordianthoughts says:

      Part of me was hoping someone would come up with this response. I didn’t, however, call you a villain, I merely asked you to explain why this particular toy gets so much attention. You haven’t answered my question. What makes Sophie more special than any other teething toy? You also seem to equate caring for a child with buying it loads of stuff. Forgive me if I don’t agree.

  2. Martina Smith says:

    When your child has been crying for days from teething, not sleeping all night and in pain – your heart goes out to them and do what you can to help. Yes this involves spending money on teething gel, herbal sachets and teething toys. Yes you get ‘suckered’ in to buying things you wouldn’t normally buy and yes adding the word ‘baby’ to anything gives it a premium price. But when you see “the best teething toy on the market”, you’re willing to spend the money to help your child and relieve them from some pain.

    I’m not buying it as a fashion statement or to fit in with other Mums. I’m not showing off. I bought it to help my child.

    But hey, what does it matter if other Mums do buy it to fit in or show off. Lets not judge them. Everyone looks after children in their own way and no one way is perfect.

    • basfordianthoughts says:

      Thank you for at least attempting to answer the question – if you’ve found it really helps then fine. But to me the marketing for it is still not, if your child is in pain from teething then try this, it’s for something so much more and this is what worries me. You must be lucky in having that kind of money and I’m very glad for you and your child that you do. A lot of mums don’t and I think the pushing of toys like this onto people (when a lot of other things will do exactly the same job) especially when they are feeling emotionally wrecked if their child is upset, then that’s wrong. Sophie is no better to my mind than a lot of other things and my teething child finds relief in things that aren’t massively overpriced as well. Which is lucky for us really.

      And I will judge anyone who does something ostensibly for their child but is really showing off. Children’s parties fall well into this.

  3. Martina Smith says:

    Giving your child a birthday party is “showing off”?

    I’m off to read the Daily Mail or some other publication with less negativity, pessimism and one sided views than this blog seems to contain. Goodbye and goodluck!

  4. John says:

    “I’m off to read the Daily Mail or some other publication with less negativity” WTF?

    I stopped looking at the Daily Mail online about six months ago because it was so poisenous, esp to women. I am a lot happier.

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