Friday, August 18, 2000

Parents' Products Hall of Fame

Moms and dads should be thankful these gadgets were invented

By Patricia Gallagher Newberry
Enquirer contributor

        At some point, early in parenthood, every mother or father has turned to another and asked: “What did parents do before Pampers?”

        It is because we know precisely what they did — rinse and soak and wash stinky soiled cloth diapers — that we hold Pampers up as a modern-day miracle.

        But the hometown team — Procter & Gamble Co., the inventor of disposable diapers — isn't the only maker of kids products that ease the work of parenting.

        In fact, I'm nominating 10 others for the inaugural class of the Parents' Products Hall of Fame:

        The sippy cup. Modest in design, genius in application, the lowly sippy cup has saved countless hours with a mop and untold dollars in spilled juice and milk. Between meals and snacks, our famliy goes through about 20 cups and lids a day. Lids can be removed only for dunkable cookies or by drinkers of legal age. Visitors who complain are reminded that it is my juice, my kitchen and my floor.

        The microwave oven. Child No. 3 leaves her breakfast on the table to retrieve a toy. Zap. The pancakes are warm again. Child No. 1 leaves her lunch to check on the dog. Zap. The soup is hot again. Child No. 2 abandons his dinner to use the bathroom. Zap. The spaghetti is steaming again. Mom leaves the kitchen to retrieve a child. Zap. Hot coffee again.

        Ziploc bags. At some point, more experienced parents tell me, my children will stop demanding food every 1 1/2 hours. At some point, I will no longer need to stuff a diaper bag with snacks every time we leave the house. Until then, I will continue to buy multiple sizes of Ziploc bags — and dole out individual servings of apple slices or Cheez-Its to kids who have never given up their infant feeding schedules.

        Velcro. I'm convinced young children have a gene that requires them to remove their shoes seven times a day. They seem to be missing the one that equips them with the ability to put the shoes back on, however. For that reason, I'm soon to petition the Federal Trade Commission for Velcro-only shoes from size 4 to 12. Under these rules, laces would be issued with drivers' licenses.

        Onesies. A T-shirt that can't come untucked. What a concept. If only there were adult sizes.

        Yogurt. I have to be pretty desperate to take all three kids to the grocery store. We can survive on the last few crumbs in the last three boxes of cereal. There's always another loaf of bread in the freezer for peanut butter sandwiches. But when the yogurt's gone, so is the one food the kids will always eat and always like and never suspect is good for them. A day without Yoplait is a shopping day.

        Shopping carts with straps. My children have two choices on those desperate days when we're out of yogurt: Walk through the grocery store and keep up with me, or get strapped into the cart. If I can't find a cart with a working strap, I take my business elsewhere.

        Pacifiers. None of my kids took one for very long. And none ever really got hooked. But there were nights — long, dark, restless nights — where I would have killed anyone who came between those babies and their Nubbies.

        Thumbless mittens. It may be August. Winter may be far from mind. But if you throw out the Land's End catalog now, you'll be scrambling for a nice, warm pair of thumbless mittens for your toddler come the first snow fall. Shop early and avoid the rush.

        VCRs. I have not researched this fact, but I know in my heart that a parent invented the VCR. It was probably a parent who had exactly 45 minutes — the length of a Winnie the Pooh tape — to get dinner cooked, eaten and cleared, and get a kid to soccer practice. Thus was born the perfect electronic baby-sitter, the savior of parents everywhere with the need to shower, talk on the phone and think in relative peace.

        To paraphrase a favored Saturday morning cartoon bit, I don't really know who invented the VCR — and the other inductees in the Parents' Products Hall of Fame — but thanks.

        Patricia Gallagher Newberry's column appears every other week. She welcomes mail at or The Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati, 45202.


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