bringing up baby

The November 12th issue of the New Yorker features a particularly good “annals of retail” column by Caitlin Flanagan. Titled “Bringing Up Baby – Anxious parents spend thousands,” the article chronicles the thing I find even more amusing than the stupid shit people buy their pets, namely – the stupid shit people buy for their babies.

Well, not so much for the babies as for mommy and daddy…much of this stuff is about ego – is the 2800 dollar stroller really better than the 98 dollar one?. Plenty of these products are also gobbled up in the name of “safety” because, of course, before the advent of baby safety products babies didn’t survive to their first birthday.*

Make no mistake, babies are indeed fragile little creatures and tragic things do happen to them, but new parents, I’m talking to you. You need to get a fucking grip and you need to do it right now.

My favorite hot new product is the backseat baby safety monitor. Here’s a link to one if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

So yes, instead of looking in the rearview mirror to make sure that The Precious is still strapped in his carseat, you can stare at a monitor on the dashboard. Frankly, I find the ear-splitting squawking to be a sign that the little beast is still there, but what do I know?

Here’s the deal, kids: if you’re going to get into a vehicle (most likely an SUV) with someone who’s enamored with one of these backseat gizmos, you damned well better bring extra diapers. Not for the kid – for yourself. This should be obvious to people who buy these things, but apparently is not, so I’ll spell it out here: If you, the driver, are staring at a video monitor on your dashboard you aren’t watching the road, you moron.

The de rigeur item in my neighborhood these days is a pram from the Silver Cross line. (Also mentioned in the article, by the way). Silver cross actually has two lines, the “lifestyle line” and the “heritage line.” These things cost thousands of dollars and the new mommies nearly go nuts at the coffeeshop trying to keep an eye on their spawn and their pricey stroller at the same time. These strollers cost more than my car is worth. It’s completely insane. Here’s the thing: the babies really, really don’t seem to care.

Why do I care? Because I have to listen to these same people go on and on to me about how worried they are about paying tuition when their little pooter is ready for school. And I have to paste a sympathetic expression on my face while my brain is practially shouting, “Why not check your ego, put the 3 grand into google stock or mutual funds or even, you know, a savings account. Something so you can, you know, start saving some money for the spawn’s schooling, if you’re that worried?”

But what do I know?

Before I go, I have a little request for new parents – aside from the request to stop trying to kill me when we’re in the car with your spawn. It’ simple, really. For the sake of your children, please stop putting those bubblewrap covers on every fixture in your house. Someday, your spawn is going to go to college, move out of the house, go to prison, or otherwise engage in an activity that will require bathing outside your safety-sealed environment. Our medical system is stretched enough without the prospect of every 18 year old in America needing medical attention their first week out of the nest because they are incapable of functioning in a non-padded environment.

Please, folks. Do it for the children.

*Yes, you know it’s not true. I know it’s not true. Yuppies with too much cash seem to be able to ignore reality and believe anything you tell them. Hell, we survived lawn darts. Today’s children apparently burst into flames when exposed to tap water. Who knew?

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