My son's first steps were in pursuit of my vacuum cleaner. He had been wobbling his way around our house by holding onto furniture for months and then one night when I started cleaning he just took off running after it. Ten or more steps in hot pursuit of our trusty old Hoover.
Even now, almost a year later, he is still obsessed with the vacuum. He loves to take the attachments off and make a whirring sound while he touches the various knobs and dials. Hopefully this bodes well for our future and I'll have a teenager who just can't help but clean up after himself constantly (snort).
So you can imagine my elation when, last Spring, I found a toy vacuum that is just his size at a consignment sale. I proudly brought it home and presented it to him and, just as I suspected, he immediately fell into toy-appliance-love with it. He adores this thing. He plays with it every day (which, anyone who has a toddler knows is basically a miracle).
So, this should be where this happy tale ends, right?
See, there's one vital flaw with this toy: it judges me.
I know I sound like a paranoid lunatic but I swear I'm not. I'm not even exaggerating the situation or saying that I'm imagining that its cold, empty, plastic eyes are mocking me (although, okay, they are). I'm being literal here. The vacuum actually literally judges me and criticizes the cleanliness of my home. Whenever my son pushes it across the floor, this vacuum says things like, "This place is a pig sty!" and "Somebody should really clean up around here!". Yea, you heard me right. That's seriously what it says.
At first I sort of chuckled to myself at these declarations and I even thought, "that's kind of funny!" But my amusement ended quickly after I found myself day after day watching as this vacuum looked around my house and told me how disgusting we are. Every morning it says, "This place is a mess!" and it asks, "Does anyone clean up around here?" and every morning I want to yell, "Yea? Well if you don't like it why don't YOU do something about it, you jerk?"
I mean, maybe it's totally irrational but I can't help but defend myself whenever it's mocking the state of my home. I frequently retort with things like, "YOU try getting three hours of sleep last night and picking up all the toys all morning long. They only wind up on the floor again the second I turn around! You see if you can do it any better! I dare you!"
I can't decide if it was a genius move on the part of the manufacturer to make this vacuum so insulting or if it was the kiss of death. I mean, it is true that on that doomed day at the consignment sale I did only pay $4 for it and some amazon.com stalking reveals that its retail price is significantly higher than that (holy lord it costs $99 new!). I also distinctly remember (and should have heeded this as a bad omen) that there were two others of the exact same model sitting next to it at the sale. More seasoned mothers passed them all by as I thought to myself, "whoa, I am SO LUCKY to be snagging one of these!" how I laugh at my innocence. Now I know better, you see. Now I understand why all these vacuums found themselves in the 'Sell' piles: they're Rude! No wonder people want to rid their lives of these snarky toys.
On the other hand, my son is absolutely obsessed with it and therein is where the genius of the item lies. Were I ever to give in to my impulse to hurtle that thing through the sliding glass doors at the back of my house and into the flower bed, I know I would have to replace it. He would be devastated without it. So maybe that's the brilliance. Maybe this company knows they've created an addictive toy that our kids love and that we are forced to endure. And maybe they planned it so that eventually parents would give in to the anger and actually carry out our rage fantasies onto these toys. Maybe these corporate geniuses knew that there will eventually come a particularly exhausting morning when we will no longer be able to control ourselves and will find ourselves beating the vacuum to death with a high heeled shoe (that, let's be honest, we only have in the closet now for nostalgia and bug-killing purposes). Maybe if we kill these vacuums, the manufacturer is betting that we will then have to turn around and buy another one. Who would be able to resist the look of tearful guilt in our child's eyes after witnessing us murdering their (deserving) precious favored toy? Basically, it's like planned obsolescence in a sense only they know that it will be the customer breaking the toy intentionally and joyously after being pushed to the limit. Who needs new customers the executives at the toy company will think with a cackle when your current customers are making the same purchase multiple times? Mu-hahahahaha! (and then they stroke a fluffy but clearly evil white cat while sitting in their swivel chairs and puffing on cigars).
Either way, this vacuum is living on borrowed time and if I have to hear, "Look at all this dirt!" again coming from it's judgmental little face I might just lose it. Literally. That vacuum might get "lost" forever on trash day.
Check yourself, Vacuum. This is your final warning.