Gifts have ribbons, not strings.  – Vanna Bonta



i traveled back from visiting my family in australia with this little gem in my bag. it was a super cool dino, who screamed like a banshee for 20 seconds when you squeezed its belly, and it was going to be a amazing and easy gift for baby j back in the states, when his birthday rolled around in 6 months. 

once on the trip, a unexpected logistical issue arose. periodically, and without any pattern or warning, i would hear it shriek in my carry- on bag. and, periodically, i would explain to those around me, and in customs and security, that it was simply a harmless toy, gone a bit bad. it was important that it made it home, as it was a gift for my grand baby j, one he simply could not live without. 

through some miracle of human kindness, it was allowed to travel all the way with me, and once home, i happily put it into my ‘box of upcoming and unusual gifts that people in my life cannot live without.’ every so often, i would hear it’s happy shriek, a bit muffled and coming from the box. i could not wait for the big day!

finally, j’s birthday was on the horizon and i took it out to wrap. i thought again about how he would be so happy to get this gift and annoy the whole family with it for hours on end. that is when i squeezed it myself,and noticed that things had clearly changed. now when i squeezed it, it would not make any noise at all and then when it finally did, it simply would not stop the shrieking for a long, long time!


i called my family in australia, and my daughter suggested that it may have a battery inside that needed changing. who knew? she actually was right, and i wrestled a battery out of it, unwinding the screw that was the size of a fairy hat, and found a replacement after a visit to numerous stores. at last, it had stopped screaming.

i took it to school to have my teaching partner do the required surgery to replace its life force, as she is much more tech-savvy than i, and thought the problem would soon be solved. the good news, is that it now had a fresh source of power, the bad – it refused to stop shrieking again, as soon as she put the battery in. she quickly removed it once more, and i decided to present it with its guts torn out, thinking i would replace its insides on-site, for dramatic effect. and i couldn’t leave the battery around, as he was little and might swallow it, so it had to be an all or nothing choice. this was turning out to be quite an amazing and easy gift!



i arrived at his house, and told the family the backstory and proceeded to insert the battery once more. of course, it began shrieking again immediately and baby j loved it! and the rest of the family hated it and asked me/begged me to remove the battery immediately! i took it back out and we found the above unusual note on the neck tag of the dino/banshee. and it kind of made sense. 


we also discovered the reason that it may not have worked exactly right.

apparently the toymakers had imprinted it, but forgotten to actually add this button to the toy.


so, we decided to ignore the warning note and took things into our own hands. the outdoor fire pit was too snowy to work.


we took it back indoors, but we decided we would probably be killed by the fumes, if we followed through with its execution by fire.



so we threw the battery away, deep in the trash.

and dino joined the others who found themselves in the pile of extinct toys.

it was a long journey, but somehow we managed to all have a lot of fun with it.

and that was the gift.

The greatest of all gifts is the power to estimate things at their true worth
 François De La Rochefoucauld

43 responses »

  1. This tale of the squawking dinosaur from Down Under has everything, Beth. Humor, delight, frustration and, yes, extinction. I cannot believe a toy company could etch in a fake on-off switch. Do you think they had a customer disservice department, perhaps?


  2. Oh my, Beth! I could not stop laughing, first at the fact it was shrieking in the plane!! Then, once at home, put safely away, it ‘lost’ its ability to scream, then with surgery and tech help from your friend, it is an ALL or NOTHING enterprise! Wow! Glad that baby J enjoyed it before it became ‘just like the others’ in its silence! Loved this, it had me chuckling with a big smile throughout! Of course, I did not have to endure the shrieking! Smiles, Robin


  3. I would like to say I love your blog and the wonderful and beautiful things you share as well as the inspiration and smiles you bring in doing so! Thank you for being you and I hope even if you do not accept awards you will accept the sentiment expressed as I honor you with one. There is no prize that comes with the award other than my appreciation and being grateful you are part of our world and making a difference by sharing in such a positive way…
    I have posted the award and link to it here I hope you will accept it or at least the sentiment behind it!

    With love,


  4. Well made. We always forgot to tell them that batteries could be replaced. Once the cheap ones die, the toy is quite. That lasted a while, but they got smart quickly. I love the On Off print – very funny


  5. Oh many a toy has been rendered silent in this house. If any questions asked I would take it away, do a lot of pretend fiddling and return it still silent, saying I had done my best. I’d not have the heart to extinguish it though.


  6. It’s so sad when the kids get old enough that they understand you silenced their toys. I’m only human, though, and a relentless, shrieking toy would definitely need some adjustment. 🙂


  7. My daughter had a singing fish that was part of a mobile she had when she was born. She loved it 1 year later we move overseas and took it with us and our luggage was singing that little tune (which was probably more pleasant than shrieking but repetitive sounds get annoying). The battery in that thing lasted for 3 years, 3 years and a lot of singing. When I finally threw it in the dumpster it was still singing! I have no idea what sort of super batteries were used in its production!


  8. I vehemently disagree with any form of dinocide, because as you know, I think dinosaurs are probably the greatest thing ever. But surely a more fitting send off would be to recreate to conditions of the K-T extinction and crash the scale equivalent of a fiery meteorite into the ground near the dinosaur, kicking up so much debris that it blocks out the sun (in a localised area) and the poor beast dies slowly as the nuclear winter dramatically changes the climate?


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