“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
-The Princess Bride
Parents need to print out the above quotation and staple it to their foreheads. Because we repeatedly fall for marketing pitches that convince us certain products will make our existence as parents easier. They never do.
Here are five that have earned my seal of disapproval:
1. Nighttime diapers claiming not to resemble diapers
Produced for older children who are still having trouble mastering overnight bladder control — and there’s no shame in that — nearly every brand on the market claims to “look and feel like real underwear!” This is presumably so kids can go to sleepovers and not feel embarrassed.
It would work but for one simple reason: the second urine hits this diaper-in-disguise, it swells up like a marshmallow in a microwave. Unless your kid can convince his pals he has a ripcord in his drawers that he pulled in the middle of the night (“Got ‘em on Amazon”), everyone’s going to know he or she wet the bed.
2. Any lotion/cream/oil/belly balm that guarantees it can “reduce the appearance of stretch marks.”
Unless you’ve won the genetic lottery, your postpartum stomach will forever resemble the jowls of a depressed geriatric.
You want to know what reduces the appearance of stretch marks? Clothes.
Perhaps the marketing folks could start exploiting that. Cotton could go from being “The fabric of our lives” to “The fabric that lets you forget you can grasp a section of your stomach in your hands and pull six inches in any direction.”
3. “No more tears” shampoo
F—k you, Johnson and Johnson. Just. F—k. You.
4. Training pants that claim to make potty training easy.
You know what makes potty training easy? Having a kid who wants to be potty trained. All training pants do is make it easier for your child to pull down her pants and pee on the sofa while you’re in the other room.
5. Thermometers that claim to work.
Thermometers, whether of the forehead-swiping, ear-sticking, or tongue-tucking variety are presumably meant to give us a reliable approximation of our child’s temperature EVERY TIME WE USE THEM. This way we know whether to hit the “Oh crap!” panic button and call the doctor.
But unless you buy the $700 hospital-grade version, every parent will at one point be awake in the middle of the night with a feverish, sweating child and a thermometer that gives the repeated and cheerful reading of “97.5!”
If manufacturers really wanted to do parents a favor, they would mass-market the following products:
-A mute button. I’m kidding. Unless the technology already exists.
-A gage that shows how full your children’s bladders are since they can’t be trusted to relate these things reliably themselves.
-Five extra arms. One with a kung fu grip.
-A device that delivers controlled doses of chardonnay into your blood stream with the push of a button.
-A pill that immediately erases whatever dumb kids’ song that gets stuck in your head. (Get bent, Fresh Beat Band.)