I’ve written before about the times I built Barbie houses with my father-in-law. The second house we constructed was my daughter’s Barbie Magic Sounds House, which she received the Christmas when she was four.
When the holiday celebrations at my in-laws’ that year were over, we brought the house home and placed it in the corner of her bedroom. My daughter played with her Barbie dolls and the house, though the house didn’t seem to be a favorite toy.
As a joke, my husband would push the teakettle—one of the “magic sounds”—to make it whistle when he put my daughter to bed. She never seemed to like the sound. It was a very loud whistle, and I wasn’t fond of it either.
One night a piercing shriek awoke our entire household. My husband and I bolted from our bed. (Well, I bolted. He doesn’t wake up so fast in the middle of the night.) The shriek didn’t repeat, so it wasn’t our smoke alarm.
I thought it must have been the doorbell. I went downstairs to the front door. Rain pelted the porch. Thunder sounded and lightning flashed—a good Midwestern storm—but no one stood on our porch waiting for shelter.
I decided we must be hearing things. We all went back to sleep, as much as it is possible to sleep during a Midwestern thunderstorm.
A few weeks later, we awoke to a kitten meowing in the middle of another storm. We didn’t own a cat. But both my husband and I swore we had heard a cat. We searched the upstairs for a squirrel or bat or other intruder, but found nothing. We went back to bed.
The next thunderstorm came in early evening. We heard the piercing shriek again. This time we identified it. It came from our daughter’s room. It was the teakettle in the Barbie Magic Sounds House. The dollhouse was haunted.
After this happened a few more times—always during downpours—we decided that the electrical disturbances in the air during thunderstorms must cause the kettle to whistle. At random times. Sometimes once. Sometimes several times in the night. Occasionally, Barbie’s cat would meow or her water faucet would gurgle, but usually it was the tea kettle that woke us.
We lived with this haunting for a few months, until we finally took the battery out of the house. No one wanted the “magic sounds” of this toy. My daughter didn’t seem to mind. In fact, many years later, she confessed she was frightened by the dollhouse that loomed in her corner and screamed unexpectedly.
Have your children’s toys ever caused distress?