4 Products Parents Should Never Buy
Warning: This post ultimately has nothing to do with golf. And it’s long. Continue reading at your own risk.
Have you ever seen the guy or girl at the local golf shop trying to jump into the game for the first time? If the retailer is out to make a buck, there’s a good chance the novice will walk out with some sticks, some way-too-fancy shoes, a glove or two, and then the ridiculousness begins. Maybe it’s an alignment aid for marking a line on your ball, or a training aid that somehow attaches your right ankle to your left gonad in order to emulate David Duval’s “in the slot” motion . . . whatever the case may be, you can’t really blame the unwitting consumer, they’re just trying to give themselves their best shot at success.
The same concept applies to having your first child. These days the smart companies know to prey upon the immense levels of excitement and apprehension that a first-time parent experiences, and even the best of us can be convinced to buy some really dumb/useless products. Take heed to this list and you will save some dignity and dough when that time comes:
1) Electric Bottle Warmer: I get it. Since the caveman days, babies were brought up on breastfeeding, and as Mother Nature would have it, that sh#t be warm! But let’s say the mom in question was able to pump some milk and stow it away in the fridge for a spell . . . now that stuff is cold, and surely this will be a shock to the system of your little prince or princess. Same goes for those heathens out there that have opted for formula instead of breastmilk, it’s just not quite up to the 98.6 degree standard (also, your kid now has a 300% greater chance of overall failure at life, nice work).
But anyway, no problem! For the low price of $29.99, you can own your very own piece of electric insanity.
This thing runs on the same principle as a clothes-steamer, which basically means it generates a gaseous form of molten lava that bubbles up around your kid’s bottle for about 3 minutes, which is clearly ideal. Once I finally figured out how to work the sucker with some efficiency, I realized there were only two possible outcomes of using it:
1) The kid starts freaking so bad that you run out of patience, take the bottle out mid-cycle, and astromelt your hand and/or wrist, whichever receives the brunt of the death cloud emanating from the boiling water below.
2) Stare at the whole operation for the full 3 minutes, wondering how the steam could possibly NOT melt the bottle before your eyes. Or even worse, what if it’s not obviously melting, but just releasing some weird plasticky hormones into the milk that will eventually turn your kid into a Liza Minnelli knockoff. (That would blow).
Fortunately for you, just when you’re ready to toss this thing out the window, it does you the favor of completely crapping out and never working again. This is after about 4 weeks. Now your anger just went plaid, because not only is this thing evil, it’s also a piece of junk.
The dramatic conclusion – your baby doesn’t care! Just run some warm water out of the tap onto the bottle for 30 seconds or so and you’re good to go! I want $30.00 and my nerve endings back!
2) High-Tech Training Potty: Sadly folks, an immeasurable amount of ingenuity, technology, and resources are being poured into the art of teaching our kids to go to the bathroom ‘proppa’ style. And yes, I am speaking about the kids who started blowing out their diapers on the 8th day of their lives. While going #1 and #2 is possibly the most natural talent endowed upon our species, for some reason we think that asking toddlers to do their business on a potty is far too tall of an order. Nope, this kid will need some serious electronics to coax that stuff out, and it wouldn’t hurt if his pal Elmo or Mickey played the role of head turd cheerleader.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just take a look at this standard issue training toilet . . . essentially a bucket with a slightly ergonomic design to allow for the little ones to comfortably take a seat. No frills, no thrills, runs about 14 bucks.Now check out the big guns – potties that employ various gimmicks designed to make the shameful business more fun than cramming 6 raisins up the nostrils:
Let’s be clear about one thing – this Learn to Flush sucker ain’t flushing jack. The idea here, of course, is that the joy of fake-flushing the toilet and hearing the requisite sounds will get your kid so pumped about using the potty that you will have to bribe him with M&Ms to get off of it. No accidents for this guy!
Problem is, any parent can tell you that your kid will be obsessed with flushing toilets well before the diapers come off. When my son was 2, he was so intent on flushing the toilet as he waited for his old man to back away from the john, he could barely hold off until the show was over. Even better, if I had no choice but to take him into the public loo with me, the wacko would start grabbing for that chrome handle-of-disease, immediately, and with dogged persistence. By the time potty training comes around, flushing is old news and your kids have already moved on to nose picking and ice cream jonesing. Oh, and if your kid is still digging the flush, guess what – he’s going to pull that handle 9,000 times on the first day regardless of whether he’s made a deposit.
The other major selling point that most of these potties go for is the “talking” capability, which has a children’s character giving Knute Rockne speeches to your kid when the weight hits the seat. Whether it be Elmo, Winnie, or Burgess Meredith (*additional charge), these voices promise to pep talk your offspring into gleefully disposing of their goldfish and fruit snacks, or at least really creep everyone out trying. We had a talking Elmo potty in our house, and over the course of one month I realized 3 things:
1) My kid could give two ‘donations’ that this thing talked. There was way too much bouncing around in his brain at the moment of truth . . . no way he was gonna tune in to whatever the hell Elmo was yapping about. And really, he was too young to understand muffled electronic gargling coming from his genitals anyway.
2) These things have a hair trigger for sure – one wrong move as you shuffle towards the shower with your eyes half-shut and Elmo will start barking at you like the drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket. Good luck not getting a Chucky vibe from that.
3) Whatever theme the potty is going for, it inevitably messes with the shape of the unit itself, making it less comfortable for your kid to sit on than a Depression Era outhouse. Just look at those things. We finally got the hint and went for the simple version, and our son has been a good earner ever since.
For the record, the fancy ones run about $25 – $35, so it’s not like you’re throwing away a ton of money with the upgrade, but you will basically be paying $20 to suck more, which is what losers do.
*Editor’s Note: So many options – what’s your punchline for the JackPotty? Leave in Comments section.
3) Baby Wipe Warmer: Yes, these exist. Yes, we had one (it was a gift!). And yes, at the time it made sense that a newborn’s rumpah was far too prized real estate to be lashed with room temperature wipes.
There’s no real need to elaborate on this one, it’s ridiculous. Mariah Carey got one of these as a baby shower gift, immediately threw it against the wall in disgust and called it “some serious diva sh-t”.
Also, ten bucks says you fill and empty the shoe twice, then start just yanking wipes out of the original package as you try to keep the unholy porridge from getting onto the changing table. And . . . your kid’s caboose lives on.
4) Special Drinking Cups: One of the first things you go out and buy when the infant is getting to the end of the bottle era is some honest American sippy cups. This purchase is hard to screw up, as these days most types are well made and get the job done. The pitfall comes when you lose one or two and have to go get some replacements at Wal-Mart, instead of Target where you bought the first ones. OR, you decide you want to spruce up the little emperor’s juice break and get him a cool Spongebob Squarepants number. Ultimately you will end up with a few different versions of the sippy cup, and for about 2-3 agonizing years, you will realize that you totally boned yourself.
Kids are fierce creatures of habit, and they do not take kindly to a glitch in the matrix when it comes to the cups they drink from. They might handle a blue to red switch with relative ease, but try throwing a different shape at them and brace yourself for a re-enactment of D-Day. And if the little devil takes a shine to the one Donald Duck cup you got him/her, don’t even think about going back to an old green clunker from the early days.
The tantrums aren’t technically the worst part. As a new parent, you find yourself worrying that your child may never bring liquid to their lips again unless you can quickly sanitize the Monsters Inc. cup that has a milk curd from yesterday brewing within. Your kid is like a tiny annoying Ghandi in that way, so principled and strong . . . surely he/she will make a great leader . . .
So there you are, scalding your hands with hot water in a frenzied race to make the cup user-friendly, because messing with dish soap would be like totally giving in to the little twerp.
The lesson here: buy a nice set of sippy cups and slowly walk away. Buy a few more than enough, and remember the name of the store just in case.