If you're wondering why parenting seems so fraught, go to a store such as Target or Walmart and check out the baby items aisle. It is crammed with stuff that makes it seem as if your child is literally crawling to death's door unless you do or buy something IMMEDIATELY.
Today I saw this ad from a company selling some new kind of diaper-changing contraption:
"Each diaper change is an opportunity for disaster to strike, since it only takes one fleeting moment for a baby to roll or flip off the changing table."
What a perfect example of how to drive parents crazy. Tell them:
1) There's something you do every day without too much thought that is actually extremely dangerous.
2) In one "fleeting moment," your child could be dead, and it would all be your fault. :(
3) If only you'd buy this new thingy, you wouldn't have to worry that your child could die. (You're worrying now, right?) :)
4) But hey, if you'd prefer not to save your baby, fine!
5) As long as you don't mind having your child die and it be all your fault.
6) (You cheap parent. Who cares more about saving a few bucks than saving one's own child's life?)
7) We're just trying to give you some "news you can use," of course. Not trying to sell anything. Heavens no! That would be cruel. We're not cruel! We're not hectoring you or guilting you or scaring you. We're just trying to save the life of the kid you don't really care that much about. Maybe you have a spare one. Maybe you'd rather spend the money on something else, such as a new outfit or a nice bottle of wine — you know, something for yourself rather than your precious baby.
8) Have a nice day!
9) (And funeral.)
This message brought to you by the baby safety-industrial complex.
Just try staying sane when all the activities of daily life are rewritten as near-death experiences. This is why most of us automatically engage in "worst-first thinking" these days — thinking up the worst-case scenario first and proceeding as if it were likely to happen. We have been trained to look at childhood only through the lens of risk and loss. It becomes a habit. And pretty soon, every diaper change becomes a tightrope walk above a snake pit under sniper fire.
(Did I mention the tightrope is buttered?)
Lenore Skenazy is president of Let Grow, founder of Free-Range Kids and author of "Has the World Gone Skenazy?" To learn more about Lenore Skenazy ([email protected]) and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.