What She Really Wants
Take a look at that face. It's true. She really could use a little help with her complexion. It may be that with all that mothering work she's been doing she hasn't had time to properly wash, rinse, clarify, tone, moisturize, and treat twice a week with mask made of mud from the Dead Sea.
Thanks should go to Elizabeth Grady - the national chain of facial salons - for nicely reminding you to scrutinize your Mom for treatable flaws. Not only will she be grateful for the opportunity to be scrubbed with special soaps, power-steamed, and pampered, she'll "love you for it!" The ad says so.
But say she doesn't appear to need radical intervention from a facial pore micromangagement specialist. Never fear. She probably has plenty of other flaws that you could point out to her and then offer to treat with any of the corrective products available on the market. In one day's Boston Globe, the wall-to-wall pre-Mother's Day ads prompt us to consider an exercise treadmill for Mom, numerous perfumes, wrinkle treatments, skin-care products, and cell phones that will give her more "free time." Don't forget! The more you scrutinize, tweak, and attempt to remedy, the more she'll love you!
Why? Because, as the media grind into our consciousnesses everyday, human relationships positively hinge on purchases. Simple interactions are never good enough. They must be mediated by products. Moms learn this from very early on in their mothering.
"Don't cradle your baby in your arms!" the ad seems to say to new mothers. Put him in "Nature's Cradle," the $359 mattress that mimics the motion and sounds of being in the womb. Designed by Infant Advantage, the mattress can be programmed to rock the baby sideways and up and down, all the while playing heartbeat and whooshing sounds. The company's future plans include adding a sound module that could be plugged into the mattress, featuring lullabies by Mom or bedtime stories by Dad. Should the baby surface through the womb-like environment of his crib, and actually utter a cry, no need for tired parents to respond. Not if they've included a sound-activated nursery monitor that plays "Brahms' Lullaby" when the baby wakes up, or any number of other gadgets like white noise machines or hypnotizing video screens -- all widely available in stores and through catalogs.
Having made it through the night, the baby and toy product industry wants you to believe that all the day-time challenges also have purchasable quick fixes. A special timer shaped like a tooth (that doubles as a toothbrush holder) will run for the "2 and a half minutes pediatric dentists recommend. When the timer rings, the clock face smiles and it's time to stop brushing." Another "playful little timer" lets you record a "personal and positive time-out message" for your child to listen to when they need -- as we all do at times -- a little sound-bite of parental guidance. The clock face's original disapproving frown gradually turns to a smile to let the child know the disciplinary moment is over.
Meanwhile, although toddlers all around the world and across history have graduated from diapers without any help whatsoever from gadgets, there are now a plethora to choose from. Summer's All in One Potty includes a slot for reading material and an "I'm done" button that beeps to signal their accomplishment. USA Today reports that the Silly Goose company from Evanston, Illinois, concerned about keeping "youngsters from losing patience and growing cranky on the potty," markets "Piddlers" -- brightly colored, fish-shaped foam targets that "give kids something to aim for during the toilet training ritual." Biodegradable and flushable, a packet of 10 goes for $6.95.
So let's get to work. What's wrong with your Mom? Does she smell bad, for example? It seems a lot of Moms would benefit from a dab of a very strong smelling solution that costs about $40 an ounce and is named after a psychatric condition, "Obsession."
Thank goodness we can move right past Mother's Day with its attention to women's inherently flawed bodies and move on to Father's Day. A "Frontgate" catalog just arrived in my mailbox. The first page is headlined, "Strong. Handsome. Dependable," and it features a lovely Dad (whose complexion appears to need no attention) lying in a lovely hammock. He's resting there. "The perfect gift for Dad" is not a treatment plan for all that is wrong with him. Father's Day is a refreshing break from Mother's Day, when we can focus on rest, recreation and leisure time instead of clogged pores.
Wait! It appears fathers do have a flaw! They pee standing up, and this can sometimes cause household conflicts. Reading along in the "Frontgate" catalog I see that a new invention helps resolve the "age-old debate about who's supposed to put the toilet seat down." The answer is: no one. "Thanks to the patented HydraGlide system, this innovative toilet seat automatically lowers itself after remaining upright for up to two minutes."
Especially for those future dads who will have been raised on colorful fish-shaped pee-pee targets, and "I'm all done!" buttons, the HydraGlide toilet-seat-lowering system will remedy the one thing that threatened to take the fun out of this male body function: Remembering to lower the seat for those pesky girls in the house whose body functions, sadly, have never been made into exciting games that involve biodegradable gadgets.