BROOKLYN, NY—Toy non-proliferation talks between Donna and Adam Feit and their 8-year-old daughter Corinne broke down Monday when Corinne stormed away from the kitchen and slammed her bedroom door.
"The Feits had hoped to walk away from the dinner-table summit with a cap on the acquisition of new toys and a workable plan for the reduction of those already in their daughter's possession," said Nancy Flemming, the Feits' neighbor and friend. "But after less than half an hour of talks, Corinne said she wished she was never born and stomped to her room. It was nothing short of a meltdown."
The long-standing toy-related conflict between the Feits and their only child came to a head last week when the Feits announced that the rate at which Corinne was amassing toys was unacceptable, and that her new habit of storing toys in the garage and living room was in direct violation of household rules. The Feits suggested the two parties "have a serious talk."
Flemming, who witnessed the summit from a breakfast-nook stool, said the talks began amicably, with all parties enjoying a snack of Oreo cookies and milk.
"The cookies were a show of good will on the part of the Feits," Flemming said. "They generally discourage between-meal snacking, but they wanted to make it clear that they were willing to compromise in order to arrive at a point of agreement satisfactory to both parties."
Indicating that they had no plans to strip Corinne of playtime capabilities, the Feits opened with an offer to allow her to continue to acquire outdoor toys—including balls, bikes, and water guns—provided that she reduce her board games by half.
"Corinne conceded that her board games were in disarray, and agreed to nearly eliminate them if she could double her doll acquisitions," Flemming said. "That's when things turned ugly."
The elder Feits raised concerns that Corinne had accumulated enough dolls to entertain herself 10 times over, and certainly more plush toys than could be safely accounted for. Corinne countered that she did not have nearly as many Bratz dolls as her classmate Jenny Holmes, arguing that she had the right to pursue a relative degree of parity in the toy race.
"The Feits categorically rejected Corinne's proposed increase in doll acquisitions," Flemming said. "Prior to this move, Corinne had demonstrated a willingness to concede certain points to her parents. That changed as soon as the Feits tried to exact a binding commitment from Corinne on the doll point."
Corinne not only questioned her parents' jurisdiction over her, she openly defied it.
"Corinne said she didn't have to do what they said and they should just go ahead and try to make her," Flemming said. "Then she intimated that she could acquire toys through back channels, such as her grandmother. I can only speculate that Corinne was hoping to undermine her parents' authority with that gambit, but it hurt her cause."
Adam responded with the mandate that no new toys were to be brought into the house for three months, at which time the situation would be reviewed to determine whether Corinne had developed a greater sense of responsibility.
"Corinne responded to her father's sanctions by screaming, 'I hate you,'" Flemming said. "I doubt the two parties can hope for a peaceful solution anytime soon. Certainly, a cooling-down period is in order."
Flemming said the Feits were very disappointed that the talks broke down.
"Donna pointed out that toy reduction would serve Corinne's own interests," Flemming said. "She warned that amassing a stockpile of toys without proper containment devices, such as shelves or a toy box, could lead to the needless destruction of toys. And Adam noted that undocumented toy stockpiles could fall into the hands of hostile neighbors, such as the Peterson boy."
Toy-proliferation experts expect the impasse to last at least until morning.