Posted by: laughs4dads | January 3, 2011

Ten Modern Inventions Without Which Children Could Not Exist

In this post, I’m going to list 10 inventions that are absolutely critical to parenting. I used the word “modern” in the title, but what I really mean are items that had been developed in time for Barbara and me to be parents, but which did not exist for our parents.

At least, that’s what they claim. People who had kids during the baby boom years tell us that they managed to do so without any of these inventions, but I don’t believe them. If these things had not been available since the beginning of time, having children would have just been too difficult, and human beings would never have caught on as a species. We’d still be enormous, reptilian creatures and Burger King would have higher drive-up windows

Anyway, here’s my list of “modern” (HAH!) child-rearing essentials:

    There is a legend that there used to be something called a “cloth diaper.”  The fact is that, in the old days, what they didn’t have was re-stickable adhesive strips.  It must have been scary.  Barbara once purchased an antique bag of disposable diapers and I attempted to use them.  Fortunately, we went through our supply quickly, primarily because I discarded ten or fifteen every time I tried to change Casey.  I’m sorry, I just don’t deal well with the pressure.  Casey was bawling her lungs out and I was trying to arrange the diaper before she could pee again.  The adhesive was good stuff; it adhered to the changing table, the wall, my skin, itself and the box of Baby Wipes. But I couldn’t reposition it to get the job just right.  The good news was, that by the time I was finished, Casey was laughing.  With me, I hope, and not at me.
    There is no other way I can think of to attach a pair of shoes to a baby’s foot.  Velcro is also good for a hyperactive baby; simply affix a strip of Velcro to a wall and a strip to your baby’s back.  You can figure out the rest.
    These reduce by valuable seconds the time it takes to heat a bottle of formula while a baby is screaming in a shrill manner so as to explode an adult’s brain.  Some people eschew this remarkable device on the theory that it is not healthy to let a baby drink formula that has been warmed with radioactive sub-atomic particles, but I say, “Who cares?”
    Before this invention, I assume parents had floors made of an incredible substance that could absorb and degrade all sorts of spillage.  I’m thinking here of dirt.  Dirt floors, however, are no longer considered socially acceptable except in extremely out-of-the-way places in Africa where they don’t have carpet cleaners available for rental at the supermarket. Our carpeting did indeed prove resistant to anything Casey could drop on it, although Barbara’s sister Karen would spill coffee every time she was over at our place and the rug would instantly absorb it and put it on permanently display.
    First there was television, and that was fine, except it didn’t show “Sesame Street” 24 hours a day.  Now it can. With the invention of VCRs and then DVDs, parents can create their own “Only Stuff Your Child Likes to Watch Over and Over Again” TV networks, so that your television will never have anything inappropriate. Or a blank screen.
  6. TOYS R US
    Before the advent of the backward “R,” there had never been such a convenient way in which to dispose of thousands of dollars in such a short time.  In the old days, it would have taken days, and much traveling, to accomplish the same expenditure.
    These are places where you can buy entire housefuls of furniture for $999.99, and be absolutely confident that it will last at least until you position it correctly in a room.  It is as close as the world comes to disposable furniture, and, if you share our opinion that expensive furniture stands no better chance of surviving a small child, you’re much better off with the cheap stuff.
    Sometimes the most important inventions are the most obvious, and here’s a perfect example.  These are simple, plastic things with prongs that fit into your electrical outlets so your little darlings won’t experience the sensation of a few thousands volts zapping through their bodies.  Another nice advantage is the propensity of these things to break every time you try to remove them in order to actually plug something in.  A prong is invariably left in the outlet, meaning you actually have to remove the plate (this involves using a screwdriver!) and replace it. Or in my case, call Gary, the handy brother-in-law, who would then come with his wife, Barbara’s sister, Karen, which was one of the reasons our gray carpeting turned brown. (see number 4 above).

    In the old days, children were constantly eating medications as if they were M&M’s, which was particularly dangerous, since we all know how lethal those red M&M’s used to be.  Now there is no danger of this happening because the medications are in shatterproof bottles with child-proof caps, and the shatterproof bottles are in cabinets with child-locks on them.  Of course, there is also no danger of an adult being able to take this medication. Here’s how this works: let’s say I have an allergy attack and I want to take those pills that relieve allergy symptoms in under ten minutes.  First, using a crowbar, I manage to open the cabinet in which the medicine is stored.  Now I am confronted with the dreaded child-proof cap.  After reading the instructions carefully, I severely injure my thumb trying to pry the thing open.  Then I throw the container against the refrigerator, but this does not work because of the wonderful shatterproof bottle.  Then I place the bottle underneath the rear wheel of my car and shift into reverse, waiting to hear that satisfying crunch.  Finally, I scrape some of the powder off the floor of my garage and swallow it with a glass of juice.  This all takes about twenty minutes.  Add ten minutes for the pill to work, and we see that relief from allergy symptoms actually takes a full half hour. 
    These are the amazing little shelf-stable containers of juice that can stay in your cupboard apparently forever and need no refrigeration unless you actually want to drink the contents.  They are great for traveling because they even come packaged with their own straws which disappear completely into the box as soon as they are inserted.  Often, these boxes contain as much as 10% fruit juice.  I guess if they filled up the other 90% of the box, it wouldn’t be shelf-stable any more.

Can you even imagine having kids without this stuff?


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