April 3 2013
National Review Online
Life can be a little messy in our house. And, truth be told, I sometimes feel like I’m an unpaid short-order cook in the county jail . . . that is, when I’m not an unpaid laundress at the county jail. But you know what’s really nice? It’s nice when companies try to figure out what I want and what will make my day go by a little smoother. You know why I appreciate this? Because Mother Nature isn’t one of your girlfriends and she’s not going to come over to sit with the kids while I go have a mommy-timeout at the nail salon. Want proof? Watch Survivor.
Luckily, companies are trying hard to tap into that mom and dad demographic. You know who I’m talking about, the “good grief, I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in seven years” demographic. That’s the demographic to which, sadly, I belong, and I kind of like the fact that companies are trying to impress me.
I like cheese sticks, single-serving applesauce, and JELL-O and yogurt cups. I love that some genius at StarKist came up with the idea to stick a tiny spoon, mayonnaise, relish, and some crackers on the side of an easy-to-open can of tuna. I love the already sliced apples that now come in Happy Meals and the fact that fast food restaurants figured out that square cartons of milk don’t fit in car cup-holders. I love squeeze-y yogurt packs and those adorable boxes of mini-penne and tiny bow-tie pastas. Snack packs of goldfish and crackers are a life-saver and who doesn’t love tossing a kid a 100-calorie serving bag of cookies. I love disposable diapers (sorry, hippy cloth-diaper devotees). I love fitted sheets, and kid-sized towels, and modern strollers. I love (the now-unavailable) drop-side cribs. I love dishwashing detergent that comes in tiny little packets and I love those laundry pods — those ingenious little one-stop shops for sudsy goodness. Baby products have evolved to such a degree that my mother now actively resents these products being absent during my baby years.
Why do I love these things? Because I’m tired. I’m tired of messes, and cling wrap, and washing tiny plastic containers, and sometimes it’s nice to throw a cheese stick in my kid’s home-packed lunch. I like it when companies think about the mommy demographic because I’m tired of cleaning up the detergent spills on top of my washer.
Yeah, yeah . . . first world problems. I get it. But can’t we just celebrate — for once — how fortunate we are to live in an economy where the market responds to parents’ demands? That some guy or gal gets a paycheck to tell the corporate heads what Julie — the tired mom of three energetic, mess-making little boys — needs to make her life just a smidge easier? That’s pretty cool, right? I’m no different than most moms. I want convenience, short-cuts, and a smattering of hassle-free products.
What I don’t want is some do-gooder worrying that I’m not doing my job properly. What I don’t want is some celebrity food writer with a live-in nanny and housekeeper making me feel guilty for occasionally letting my kid have some goldfish crackers and telling me kale chips are super easy to make (do these people actually wash the kale — a rather time-consuming endeavor — or do they consider the sand and grit just a good fiber source?). What grates on me is when these nannies assume I don’t know how to keep dishwasher and laundry pods out of the mouths of my children.
Concern that kids will mistake these small laundry pods for food or candy is a particularly bizarre issue, made even more bizarre when a United States Senator decided to warn the American public of the dangers of these laundry pods. Apparently forgetting that children mistake basically everything for food, New York senator Chuck Schumer said of the laundry pods: “I don’t know why they make them look so delicious.”
Except that kids don’t really think that way. They don’t just think laundry pods look delicious; they think everything looks delicious. Kids are well known to stick just about anything in their mouths. Reasonable moms know this. So, maybe Senator Schumer should advise parents to start acting more reasonably by putting these pods (and basically everything that shouldn’t be consumed by a child) out of the reach of children? Might a little personal responsibility be in order here?
And, as long as we’re trading horror stories; how about one about pour-able detergent, in which a friend of mine told me that the reason he and his wife switched to the single serving pods of detergent was because one his children poured detergent on himself and it was a hassle to clean up both him and the floor. As my friend said of his own experience with the laundry pods, “we’ve never had a problem with pods because all of kids know that we do not keep food on top of the washing machine.”
Smart Dad. Smart kids.
Look, I get it. People care. But wouldn’t it be nice if they just kept their caring to themselves. Let me care about my own kids and trust me to have the sense to keep dangerous items on high shelves.
More importantly, let’s not discourage industry from coming up with these innovations, innovations that make my life just a little easier.