'I Hate You': Vancouver family finds surprising message in baby's toy

The Columbian 01/13/03: Margaret Ellis

Original Link:

Blanche Skelton was feeding her baby when she heard something besides the soothing sound of ocean waves coming from a toy attached to the crib.

It was saying, "I hate you."

After asking her husband, her parents-in-law, and everyone else in the home east of Hazel Dell, they were convinced. The toy was definitely, albeit quietly, saying "I hate you."

Blanche's 6-month-old son, Alex, got the toy as a Christmas present. It makes soothing sounds and music for baby to fall asleep to, with an illuminated picture of a cartoon-style aquarium on the front.

But in between the white noise of ocean waves, a tiny babyish voice pipes up with childhood angst.

Made in China, the toy was sold by Wal-Mart and carries the Kid Connection brand, which is a store brand.

Blanche and her husband, Steve, said they went to the Wal-Mart store Thursday and listened to two other aquarium toys like theirs. Sure enough, there was that creepy voice.

The couple talked to a manager, who scoffed until another employee blurted out that he heard it, too.

Then the manager pledged to get the toy off the shelves, and offered the family a refund, Blanche said. By Friday, the toys were gone from the shelves at the Hazel Dell store.

But the Skeltons would rather get the word out to other families who may have bought the toy.

"How many kids are lying in their crib listening to that?" asked Gary Skelton, Blanche's father-in-law.

Still the family is more bemused than distressed by the toy. Gary Skelton pointed to a smiling Alex scooting across the carpet. If Alex could talk, Skelton joked, "He says, 'Yep, I'm the victim.'"

Karen Burk, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman at the company's Arkansas headquarters, said she'd never heard anyone else complain about the toy.

"This is the first time I've heard of this problem," she said. "I have relayed this information to our merchandise team. They do not have any of the product on their shelves. As always, we are always sorry that a customer is not happy with a product they purchased at our stores and we encourage the customer to come back for a full refund."

But the Skeltons don't really want to take the toy back.

"We'll keep it around for novelty, I guess," said Gary Skelton. "Just don't hang it over the crib is all."


Enter recipient's e-mail: