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.




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