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?