The Haunted Doll House

barbie magic sounds houseI’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?

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  1. Your daughter was more brave than I would have been, Theresa. That dollhouse and it’s “magic sounds” would have gone out in the garage or to the basement. For whatever reasons, toys that made sounds or dolls that spoke, always scared me.

  2. We had some Furbys, those furry little oval critters that made a squawking noise. When we moved, we packed them in a box with lots of other stuff. When the mover carried the box through the living room, he stumbled. A Furby squawked.

    That poor man had the weirdest look on his face but didn’t drop the box!

  3. I LOVE THIS. Sorry for shouting! My kids were terrified of the walking doll I’ve had since I was 4–the one my grandmother gave me with all the beautiful clothes. They would tell me that Bonnie would open and close her eyes at them when I wasn’t around. They weren’t kidding either. I never had a talking doll, but my brother had Chatty Cathy’s little brother. I was older by then so it didn’t bother me. My son had a Teddy Ruxpin. I’ll have to ask him about it!

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