Dear Fellow Parent,

Thanks so much for getting my toddler the Magical Musical Mat™, with no fewer than 50 different sound effects to choose from. According to the box, my daughter simply has to stomp, crawl, or roll across it to generate all sorts of fun sounds, including flutes, accordions, fart noises, and car horns.

When somebody gives your kid a toy like that, there’s really only one thing to say.

Congratulations! You just made an enemy for life.

The first rule of the Fellow Parent Code is simple: never make another parent’s job harder. The second rule? Never, ever, ever make another parent’s job harder. That’s it. It’s kind of like the first and second rules of Fight Club, which is like a freaking cotillion compared to what our home has become, thanks to the Magical Musical Mat™.

If there’s one thing guaranteed to make a parent’s life miserable, it’s giving their kid a toy that will add more noise to an already noise-ravaged household. Thanks to you and the Magical Musical Mat™, every minute of my life is now a beeping, squawking, nonstop honking nightmare. I haven’t slept in a week, my ears are bleeding, and I can’t stop crying long enough to think properly.

At first, my husband thought I was overreacting.

“It’s no big deal,” he said.

“We can always hide it if it gets annoying,” he said.

That was before he saw our daughter go completely feral when we hid the Magical Musical Mat™ for three minutes. That was our first and last attempt to have some peace. Now our daughter is happily using her toy to make noises like “fingernails on a chalkboard” while my husband lies in the fetal position on the bathroom floor.

This toy is wreaking havoc on every species in the household. The dog won’t stop howling. The goldfish has tried to commit suicide three times in the past 72 hours. And whenever our cat hears the Magical Musical Mat™, he sprays urine on the nearest piece of furniture.

I’ve never identified with an animal so much.

I have forgotten what silence sounds like. Time no longer has meaning. There is no AM, no PM. There is only M.M.M.™ I’m now nearly 100% positive that the Magical Musical Mat™ is what the military uses to interrogate possible terrorists via sleep deprivation. Only in this situation, my toddler’s the terrorist and I’m just a parent who’s rapidly losing her mind.

In my fleeting moments of sanity, only one thought is clear: I must dedicate the rest of my parenting life to making yours worse. That should be easy for me to do now—I lost my job yesterday after scream-crying about the Magical Musical Mat™ while standing on a conference room table during a board meeting.

I’ve got nothing but time now. So you’d better look out. I’ve bought a whiteboard and everything.

You have been warned.


Sleepless in Suburbia

P.S. I hope your kids enjoy the accompanying crate of hamsters and kazoos.