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Friday, December 09, 2005 | If you’re a parent who hasn’t filled out his or her Christmas list, you’re sort of in luck. American entrepreneurs are now trying to appeal to all your needs, not just the need to have your child stop crying.
But being a parent means never having time to shop for yourself, which is why I’m volunteering some gift suggestions because there’s no time like the present (or presents).
Gifts Responsible Parents Are Supposed to Want:
– The “SafeGuard Child Seat” is billed as the most innovative and safest on the market, thanks to technology designed to address the top five misuses of car seats.
Although it’s supposedly easier to latch into than older child seats, my wife and I had a hard time getting a tight fit in our early-’90s era used cars.
Plus, with a list price of $429, I was sort of hoping it would feature a built-in bottle warmer or beer cooler.
– The “Walk-O-Long” is a device that proves that necessity isn’t the only mother of invention – so is an aching back.
It’s basically a U-shaped plush roll devised by a plumber so he could help his 10-month-old daughter learn to walk without bending over more than necessary.
Inventor Jeff Zinger claims the device not only saved his back but it cuts down the time a kid needs to learn walking. He says because the device keeps her hands free, his daughter learned to walk in five days and was able to ice skate before she was three.
– “Myself Belts” are Velcro-tabbed belts designed so that kids can belt themselves. These are actually handy since my daughter Alex is at the age where she wants to do everything herself. Fashion-wise, I like them because they’re an alternative to the rainbow-colored suspenders that Robin Williams wore on “Mork and Mindy.”
– The “CartSafari Shopping Cart Cover” is a clever idea for messy kids. Basically it’s a piece of washable fabric that wraps around a shopping cart or child seat at a restaurant and makes it so the little nipper can make a mess without dirtying up those expensive outfits you bought before you had kids and never realized what slobs they are.
Musical Gifts for the Parentally Incorrect:
This is actually a good year for parents who want their kids to listen to children’s music that is as alternative as they used to be before they had kids.
– “Noisy Songs for Noisy Kids” by Thunderlords is the first adult heavy metal album specifically for kids and is proof the family that head bangs together hangs together.
The group has a Viking theme visually but the songs ware more universal meaning, especially “Ice Cream Headache,” and “I Like Dirt.”
The album is pretty cool for parents raised on rock but there is a potential downside: The young’uns who grow up on it might rebel when they’re teenagers and start listening to Celine Dion.
– “Infant Calm,” by Michael Preston is more for parents who want their kids growing up with industrial music. The album contains nothing but the sounds of vacuum cleaners, clothes dryer hums and hair dryer whistles.
It’s a lullaby CD that Preston devised after realizing his daughter fell to sleep easiest when he turned on the oven fan or hair dryer.
Believe me: The album does its job but I’m not sure what a sequel would sound like and I’m not sure if I’d want to take my daughter to a live concert.
Parentally Incorrect Books
– “You’re Different And That’s Super” (Simon And Schuster) by “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy” fashion expert Carson Kressley may be the children’s book that didn’t need to be written – but was anyway.
The plot concerns a unicorn named Trumpet who learns to embrace his uniqueness. Kressley freely tells Wireless Flash News Service there’s a gay subtext to the book.
“Trumpet’s a little queer in that he’s a unicorn – I mean, it doesn’t get gayer than that” but says the book is meant to inspire kids to embrace their unique qualities no matter what they are.
Gifts Even Bad Parents Don’t Want
– Furrballz just might be the worst toy of the year. They’re battery-powered balls of fur that spin around when you toss them and say all sorts of wacky things like “Don’t go there,” and “Who let the dogs out.”
After my daughter learned the stupidest catch phrases of the 1990s, she immediately lost interest and no longer plays with them. Good for her.
– Electronic Kong Arms are the type of gift you give to a child when you hate their parents. They are basically hairy gorilla-like gloves that make obnoxious ape noises when you bang them together. In past years, similar toys have featured the Hulk and the Thing.
The toy has inspired me to write poetry: Kids love Kong Arms while they’re in the store but after Christmas Day, they play with them no more.
To be fair, I must say that these really do look like authentic gorilla hands but the problem is, they are just too tempting. There is no way a child will wake up in the middle of the night and NOT want to bang them together.
– Toilet Buddies is the brand name for a potty-training device that features characters like “Poo P. Bunny,” “Gatago Giraffe,” “Puddles Puppy” and “Ca Ca Cow” that are attached to the potty via velcro fasteners.
Maybe it’s just me but I am goosey about trusting cartoon animals to teach my child basic hygiene.
Best Gift of the Year: The Playstation PSP
As a concerned parent, I am always looking for electronic gadgets to baby-sit my child while I’m having fun. And the Playstation PSP is perfect and portable.
Alex isn’t old enough for games yet but there are lots of movies becoming available on the PSP format that Alex can look at while I’m doing adult stuff like checking my e-mail or playing Frisbee golf.
At $249, it may seem a bit steep but with a little finagling, you can check e-mail and do other cool things. I have a feeling it’s the device of the future and will be as common with parents as diapers and drowsiness.
David Moye is a La Mesa-based writer who finds himself singing the theme song to Dora The Explorer when he thinks no one is listening.