Buy or Die

Filed under: Opinions


So have you seen those things called "Table Toppers"? They're cute, disposable placemats you can take with you when you're going out to a restaurant with your kid.

Which makes sense if you're lunching at Lepers 'N Fries.

Seriously -- if you are so worried about the bacteria breeding at your favorite restaurant, don't you think you should eat someplace a little less nauseating? Like the sewer?

Anyway, even if you are NOT worried about the local listeria, the placemat pushers still want you to use one (at about 50 cents a pop, which, at the restaurants I frequent, equals an apple pie). Table Toppers provide "On-the-go protection from germs, dirt and cleaning chemicals on restaurant and food court tables" says the package. And THAT is why so many parents are going so crazy when it comes to taking care of their kids. According to that package, a table is dangerous when it is dirty AND when it is clean. In other words: It is NEVER safe!

I've pretty much had it with our paranoid culture that praises every extra step we take to keep our kids safe from dangers its entrepreneurs invent. This is, after all, the culture that came up with grocery cart covers -- covers that protect kids from the very surfaces they have been gumming since the world begat supermarkets. And now you can even buy "gLovies" – disposable gloves to keep your kid from touching anything at all in public. The swing! The door handle! The fork at Applebee's (presumably placed on your own personal placemat).

It's as if all the extra precautions taken in the neonatal intensive care unit have seeped out into the real world. Think of the infrared monitors that are standard baby gear now. These allow us to watch our kids even as they sleep in the dark. Of course, constant surveillance makes sense if a child is perched precariously between life and death. But a monitor like that for everyday use is telling the parents of healthy children that they should be as vigilant as NICU nurses (and, while they're at it, never sleep).

At my local baby store they're selling little mesh bags you can put your baby's food in so the child never chokes. They sort of suck their food through the net. This is probably helpful for children with serious swallowing issues, but why are we suddenly seeing them for normally functioning kids?

Anyone lucky enough to have a healthy child is not allowed to rejoice and relax, even though we've all read the studies that show that kids do better -- fewer allergies, fewer illnesses -- when exposed to germs at an early age (after being properly vaccinated, that is).

Table Toppers, gLovies, mesh bags for eating and surveillance cameras for sleeping all tell us our kids are in grave danger every second they do anything, even nap. The only safeguard is to buy more doodads.

How convenient if you have something to sell.

Related:
Declaring War on Germs

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.