Monday, May 30, 2005

The Fisher-Price King

I feel so banal. I’ve just discovered the Infant-Military-Industrial-Complex. And I know I’m not the first. Walking through the aisles of kid stuff, I want to write about the forced choices before me: pink frilly, or desert camouflage.

But all this ruminating is so forty years ago. I can see back to one of my writing idols: Judith Viorst. She wrote Nice Baby in the sixties. How can I top Judith? Damn these baby-boomers anyway! First it was Wicca, then it was the Radical Faeries, now it’s child-care; everywhere I go they’ve had a twenty year jump on the writing market.

So, pink frills or desert camouflage? I choose neither!

Okay, Okay, I can hear all of the progressive parents in my audience tisking, shaking their heads and saying, “Before I had children, I swore I would never have plastic children’s stuff on my lawn. You want to know what’s on my lawn?”

“But I can be strong,” I say. “I refuse to be pulled into this game by falling for a false choice.”

“No,” says the parental Greek chorus, “You cannot resist. Every Bohemian Parent believes they will be the first to preserve their ‘stubbly with goodness’ lifestyle. But they get worn down. Give in; you can go gracefully, or you can go kicking and screaming, but you’ll still go.”

The only protection I have from the Cult of Anne Geddess is to shriek, “But what about the well-being of the child?” This pops me out of the desert frills level and up to the Politically Correct or Commercially Complacent level. You want to know something? The baby-boomers have written all about this, too.

What is is about our society that makes it want to present us with all these choices that aren’t really choices? And what is it about being an expectant parent that makes us examine these false choices? Stumped, I leave the keyboard for a moment for a bathroom break and stumble across this quote: “I arise each morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. That makes it hard to plan the day.” -- E. B. White.

Gracious. I found portent in the bathroom. There must be a metaphor in there, somewhere.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Invasion of the Fisher-Price Link-A-Doos Snatchers

When I first encountered Link-A-Doos, I was reading a Fisher-Price catalog thinly disguised as a Pregnant Mother's Magazine. The first page I opened to had a half-page glossy photograph: Small, brightly colored, plastic, flower-shaped mutant creatures swarmed through an open window and proceded to hang from every concevable vertical surface. There wasn't a baby in sight; obviously the mass-produced, churbic faced ones were waiting for an unsuspecting parent to leave a child in the room for a nap so they could whisk it away to the mothership. Other brightly colored items with Very Round Faces And Eyes littered the room with highly-athropormorphized baby expressions.

I stabbed an index finger into Mark's shoulder. "This," I said, stabbing the photo next, "is *not* (stab) what our house (stab) is going to look like (stab-stab-stab)."

I can deal with bright colors and high-contrast. I can deal with animal shapes. I can even deal with flowers. And I thought Ellenor's pull-string toy that wiggled was cool. But I draw the line at smiling, insipid, Anne-Geddes-on-Steroids faces. What lesson do these toys teach beyond "look cute so you won't be left for the wolves?" Don't children know how to do this already? Doesn't modeling "cute behavor" undermine a child's intrinsic motivation to be cute spontaneously?

So. This:,linkspeg

out. *Way* out. Escape-velocity speeds aren't too slow.


in. I'm working on constructing a baby mobile this week.

In a related topic; we now own an iMac G5 -- so we can watch DVD's. We will not be watching any Teletubbies at our house. Instead we will be instilling a sense of cultural hertigage into our son by playing a Books-on-CD version of The Oddessy and watching DVD's of the Original Star Trek series ("See, son; Mr. Spock always has to save Captian Kirk; what do you think that says about doing well in science?...:).

- John

PS: Thanks to everyone for all the advice on straight -- er swaddling. Now I really want a leopard-print swadling sack.