Thursday, August 17, 2006

I’m “Parent-Assembly Required Challenged”

When I was a kid, my Dad could practically build anything, from assembling bikes to building a car in the garage any summer afternoon just for the shear thrill (even melting tin nails and pounding sheet metal for the frame). I never doubted his Dad skills; I thought this was some ability that just magically appeared when a man became a Dad. It was evolution at its best. Also, the possibility of watching lots of MacGyver growing up reinforced this thinking.

I was wrong and T.V. has once again failed me.

This past weekend I had the joys of installing a KidCo baby gate on our staircase for a few hours (I’m no stranger to installing, referring to what is now known as “the pony incident” or “the magnetic baby-locks clash of 2006”). I was reliving all my past experiences - pictures that didn’t make any sense, thousands of ‘small’ objects, instructions that could have been written in Latin then translated into English by James Brown. This project had to be the mother of it all. I did what any sane, frustrated adult would do – I dropped everything and asked my wife to finish the job before I sent a burning bag of dog crap to the manufacture. It took her another hour to figure it out.

Later, while walking around the house, I began to wonder why in the world do we need all this stuff? What did parents do 20 years ago when all of this stuff wasn’t around? Who convinced us that if we didn’t have the baby gate, the locks, the table bumper guards, the baby crash helmets that we’re horrible parents and when our kids are calling us from prison it’s because we didn’t secure the linen drawer.
Frankly, I’m tired of the marketing. My parents didn’t have any of that stuff I think I turned out fine. All of my childhood damage was psychological (the way God intended it to be!)
My wife disagrees, of course, and now we’re off to get another baby gate. This time, a pressurized one (no assembly required) that works right out of the box.


Pickle's Papa said...

My favorite set of instructions of all time were for a lighting system that was built in Japan for export to Russia. The purchaser there realized they could make money reselling the items in the US and paid a drunken out of work KGB agent to translate the Japanese translated Russian to English.

That was a hoot.

p.s. James Brown was funny.

Diana said...

I'm dying here trying not to laugh aloud because my boss just walked in. A warning: those 'work right out of the box' gates are just as bad. They work for a day or two, then they start locking up on you and you have to fight the thing just to get it to block what you want to block. (That's IF you are going to be removing it for any reason, as our gate had to be removed constantly)
James brown analogy: LOLOL!!!!

Diana said...

Forgot to say: there was a point that I started just leaning the damn gate against the stairs, but the boy figured out how to use it as a ramp...

Waya said...

That is so true though, we didn't have all this stuff when we were young, and we turned out fine, I think! It's those damn marketing companies that are preying on the fears, and guilt of us parents.

We do have one of those pressurized gate, no assembly required and it's great!

radioactive girl said...

We never had any child proofing for our last baby (we moved and didn't re-child proof anything for him as we had for our first 3 babies). He was totally fine. My first three kids have all had stitches in their life, he has never had them. Hmmmm

In the fall (I guess next month already) I am going to watch two children two days a week and am getting licensed by DCFS. They require me to child proof for these other children. I think my baby may end up in therapy whining "but she child proofed for other peoples kids and not for me!" For our last baby, we had already given most of our baby "stuff" away too...he was a surprise, and we did not re-buy much baby stuff either. I think sometimes first time parents get so excited that they (and we did too) get so excited about having an actual baby that we go way overboard on what is really necessary! All they really require at first is love, food and attention....and lots and lots of diaper changes!

junebee said...

My pediatrician asked me if I "childproofed" my home. I said, sure. All I did really was stick a couple of outlet protectors in the electrical sockets.

The parenting industry is the only thing that is possibly worse than the "chick" industry. The "chick" industry (magazines, books, and other products geared toward women) really DOESN'T want you to have the perfect job, the perfect hairstyle and the perfect guy, because then you wouldn't need/want their products.

Same with the parenting industry. They create and then feed on neurosis to sell their products. Then liberal "health" professionals back them up, creating more parental neurosis. Think about it, 100 years ago people raised kids just fine w/o all these stupid parenting theories and products.