Now that we’re one month over Christmas, the first round of batteries are starting to die in some of the toys that Santa brought. Generally, I get in touch with Santa some time before the holidays and ask him to steer away from the battery-operated toys (BOTs) for our house. There are two reasons for this.
First, environmentally, they create waste. What ever happened to the old puzzle or the wooden blocks? Now it’s all flashy plastic with lights, not to mention the annoying sounds, voices, music, etc. that emanate from such devices. And since I haven’t found a place that recycles batteries yet (and I simply cannot bring myself to just toss them into the bin) they are in a big bag in That Drawer*, where they will probably be decomposing by the time I find the battery recycling place.
The second reason (and who am I kidding? This is the real reason) I don’t like BOTs is because I dread trying to open the little compartments that hold the batteries. Gone are the days when the batteries died, you popped open the little plastic tab, chucked the batteries into the trash can, put in some new ones and Simon Says was back in action.
Not now. Now, you need to find the toolbox and loosen some 15 tiny screws. It’s impossible to tell when they’re completely loosened because they’re attached to the tab. Then you start the whole process over again since you can’t figure out which one is still not loosened. I’ve whiled away whole afternoons engaged in this process, looking up three hours later only to realise I haven’t prepped dinner or folded any laundry and the kids are happily playing in the knife drawer.
When did batteries become such a danger that they had to be locked away? They don’t have any sharp edges, all the bad chemicals are deep inside and they don’t look that inviting to put in one’s mouth. I have toys that I would deem far more dangerous than a battery, like a plastic pirate sword, a kite or a mini-bake oven just to name a few. They can’t be that dangerous: you can still take them on an airplane. While apparently some of the chemistry class elite can fashion a bomb out of blusher and hair gel, no one has yet managed the same feat with the lowly battery. There’s the proof.
Perhaps then, it is the tiny screws that secure the batteries in their cargo hold. I can just imagine the robbery scene in the next heist movie: ‘Look OUT! Everybody down! He’s got a SPRING!’
This week, we lost battery power in the magic pen that accompanies the point and read books. It went something like this:
Eva: Mum, this won’t work.
Me: It must be the batteries. (Silent expletives) Let’s go to That Drawer and see if I can find a screwdriver. (One for use in the Smurf World would be helpful since the screws that hold the tab on are so tiny I had trouble even finding them.)
Eva: Here’s the screwdriver!
Me: I know, but that one’s too big. I need a smaller one. Let’s try the point of a knife. (What a lesson in safety this is turning out to be)
I pull out several knives, but they all slip. More silent expletives. This is when I need McGuyver. That man could pick a lock with a cotton ball. Eva’s tears are starting. I go back to That Drawer again and have a rummage and find little plastic box labelled ‘Jeweller’s Repair Kit’. I had forgotten about this – it had been purchased to repair a pair of broken sunglasses. And thankfully, it saved the day.
But who keeps one of these just laying around the house, unless you happened to be married, to say, a jeweller or perhaps an optometrist? Since you probably don’t have one, it might be best to ask Santa for one. Just in case. And if you don’t need it to spring open the odd battery compartment here or there, maybe you’ll use it for what it’s meant for: eyeglasses.
*That Drawer – You know the one I mean. You have one. It’s full of miscellaneous junk: tacks, the odd Barbie shoe, fuses, pieces to games, those plastic parts you know belong to something you just don’t know what and you’re afraid to throw away, a dog collar (although you haven’t had a dog since the Clinton Administration), hooks for tree ornaments you found after you packed away the Christmas boxes and anything else that is otherwise homeless in your home.