Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Protect us, because we're stupid

The Consumer Product Safety Commission does a lot of good work, I'm sure, in keeping truly dangerous products from reaching American shoppers, but the agency just doesn't know when to quit. It's a good thing when the CPSC intercepts Chinese products that are full of lead or keeps a hazardous crib from getting into the hands of new parents, but there comes a point when consumers should be trusted to use their own common sense and due diligence. The commission is forever issuing recall notices for toys that have parts that "could" come off and "could" pose a choking hazard for children. The folks at the CPSC also spend a lot of time looking for clothing with drawstrings that "could" pose a strangulation threat. Have these people ever seen Legos or Lincoln Logs? I'm guessing a lot of parents have whacked a kid in the back or gone Heimlich to dislodge one of those from their kids' gullets. When I was a kid, one of my brothers swallowed a marble. A friend who was a nurse told my mother to give him some mineral oil and keep an eye out on the other end. It was better than Playstation. Every time he went No. 2, the whole family gathered around to see if the marble would appear. It eventually did. Hey, there wasn't much to do in Claysville in the '60s. But back to the subject at hand. The CPSC doesn't confine itself to lead, choking or strangulation. No sir. Now that warm weather is here, the agency recently advised parents and caregivers to "take precautions to keep children from falling from windows." Really??? I'm not saying the CPSC is unnecessary, but when it comes to edible toys and the like, I think parents should follow this simple, old-fashioned approach: WATCH YOUR KIDS! That should be sufficient.



Anonymous R. Glover said...

Amazing! Someone with a brain has a blog. YeHaw!!! Keep it up, maybe you will get through to some of the rest of them.

One comment about the article. Whenever you have an agency like the CPSC, they have to show that they are actually doing something. They are happy that parents are too stupid to protect their own kids It keeps the funding coming in. If parents went back to actually parenting, commissions and agencies like this would be out of business. Like any other successful business, they found their niche.

June 17, 2008 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

R. Glover, you're going to enjoy this blog. Watch for comments by Roger and ellipses; they're always good. And Brant is one of the most intelligent people you'll encounter.

I was going to go on a rant about personal responsibility and parents being parents, about using some damn common sense for a change, but you said it for me.

I think in addition to parents being too stupid to watch their kids, they also are too lazy to watch them. It's easier to let someone else worry, thereby taking the onus off of them and putting it squarely on government. Then when it comes time for the inevitable litigation, well, the bigger and bloated the organization, the more money is available.

June 18, 2008 at 10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot Priguy!

When I first found this blog and starting reading through the comments, I was almost certain I knew who you were... Then it becomes apparent that you live in Virginia and I was dead wrong :-)

R. Glover (Danny's brother, I presume)... I second Priguy's assertion that Brant is a superstar...

I suppose i should say something about the topic... so as to avoid simply taking up space...

In some respects, i think the CPSC does a lot of preaching to the choir... parents that seek out info on recalls and how to keep their kids from falling out of windows are probably the same parents that try to keep their kids from falling out of windows... Here's my advice to parents... if it is small enough for a child to play with, it probably has something on it that they can choke on... kinda like what mitch hedberg says about literature... every book is a children's book if the kid can read!

I'm all for keeping kids safe... but at some point you have to swallow a marble, swim in the Mon, and fall out of a couple of windows...


June 18, 2008 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I fell out of the passenger side of my Dad's pickup truck once when I was a kid. The truck wasn't going very fast, and I wasn't hurt, but unfortunately for my Dad, my Mom saw the whole thing. Wasn't a good night for him. Those old pickups didn't have seat belts, and I made the mistake of leaning my arm on the door handle. Oops. I wish I could say I suffered I closed-head injury, because that would have explained a lot of what I've done over the ensuing years. To all of you, thanks for the kind words. But whatever this blog achieves, it is due mainly to contributions from you folks. And I do appreciate your involvement. Cheers.

June 18, 2008 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

You're welcome, ellipses. I should point out to you that I was born and raised in good ol' Taylorstown, graduated from McGuffey solidly in the middle of my class, and moved to Virginia 25 years ago. We may know each other after all. Anyway, while I frequently draw parallels with the local life here, I still have my roots firmly in Washington County.

I read lots of stuff online, and this particular blog is one of the most entertaining out there, and the content is always top-shelf. I'm proud to be a frequent contributor.

Ellipses is correct in that occasionally we have to let our children venture forth a bit even if they stumble and fall. It's an important step in learning. Hell, my son learned to navigate stairs by falling down the porch steps. Repeatedly. Each time, I checked to see if there was any damage, and there never was. He was more determined to master those stairs than I was to keep him away from them. I don't think that makes me a bad parent. My children have swallowed coins (and we waited for the subsequent expulsion from the other end), they went through the stealing phase (pencils, gum...at age 5) and they've broken bones, chipped teeth and had stitches. But I never put them in harm's way, nor would I. All of it was part of "being a kid."

The important thing is that I don't need some consumer advocacy group to tell me to keep an eye on my children.

June 18, 2008 at 5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Priguy... since you moved to VA 1 year before I arrived on this earth, I can guarantee that I don't know you :-) And, I know that the person I was thinking of still lives in the area... He was the father of a girl I went to school with... Their last name kinda sounded like "prig"... and, though I haven't met him, I can discern from various events that have occurred over the years that he is probably rather intelligent and relatively opinionated.


June 18, 2008 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

We raised a child in the 70s, so I am the first to admit being outdated with regard to the world of child toys, playthings, etc. A few weeks ago, my wife went to a large store (Kohls ..?) to buy a gift for a friends who recently became first-time parents. When we were discussing the purchase later, she asked if I had been in the Baby Department recently in any store. Duh? I rarely buy anything for myself, let alone buy something in the Baby Department. She suggested I take a stroll sometime, and be made aware of all the devices, gadgets, electronics, monitoring, ... items that were for baby "protection." The changes in the past couple of decades are huge.

Shifting ahead 30 years in parenting can be alarming with regard to what perspective we have toward children. But, it is a paradox, a dichotomy, if you will. On one hand, we seem to have a plethora of childcare services available. Some folks make reservations for child care BEFORE the wife gets pregnant. These folks seem very content with letting some stranger spend hours and hours every day, "raising" their child. On the other hand, many of these same folks are adamant about having all the latest devices to protect their child from getting hurt. Their house is apparently filled with all manner of stuff, solely for the purpose to protect their child from physical damage.

What I see here is a misjudgment of importance. Parenting in its true form is a verb. It is an action of adult mentoring, guiding, and teaching a child the ways of life. How can so many young parents (and we have more than one in our extended family) be so quick to pass off their child for somebody else to be cared for, hour after hour, primarily in a "sheep in the pen" format, yet be so concerned about their physical well-being? This is not to minimize the necessity of being careful for their physical person. True, it is important. But, oh so much more important is to build the parent/child bond, the closeness that comes from being together for guidance and learning.

Perhaps I digress from Brandt's piece. But, the controls on child safety matters has so gone out of control, and the young parents like it. They feel they can be assured their child will not get hurt from certain toys, transportation devices, etc. That is the easy part of parenting. The much harder part, and the important part, is nurturing the life of that child, building a strong parent/child relationship. This takes work and devotion, a passion for wanting the best for their child.

June 18, 2008 at 11:02 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Good points, Roger. In a perfect world, one parent would be able to be a full-time nurturer and caregiver to a couple's children, but sometimes both parents have to work to keep the family financially solvent. At the same time, I think we, and I include myself in this, have become so focused on getting material things - the really nice house, car, etc. - that we forget the old saying that the best things in life are free. If we were willing to settle for a smaller house, an older car, hamburger instead of steak on the table, maybe we could get out of the rat race, or at least get out of the passing lane, and focus on the really important things. Forgive me if I'm rambling incoherently. I'm at the end of a long night at the paper. I also mowed the lawn today, and at my age, it takes a lot out of you.

June 18, 2008 at 11:58 PM  

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