Marketplace Feature: Christie Mellor Commentary

Marketplace Feature: Christie Mellor Commentary

Victims of Childproofing

Commentary heard on National Public Radio’s Marketplace: illustrated button Listen to Marketplace MP3


I was at a dinner party, at the home of another couple with children. I made a quick visit to the bathroom.

I came back just as quickly, and tried to explain to my hostess delicately—yet–with some urgency–that I could not unlock . . . the toilet seat.

After that awkward rescue, I dropped into the kitchen for a drink. That’s when I noticed the weird covers on every doorknob, rendering them useless to all but the most sober grownups.

The napkin drawer was locked. So was the flatware drawer. The drawer that holds the rubber bands? Locked.

Industrial rubber siding adorned the Noguchi coffee table, Unsightly gray foam edged the entire mid-century dining room.

Fashion statement? No. These seemingly intelligent–and formerly stylish friends–had fallen victim to the Child-Proofing industry, which preys upon the fears of the conscientious parent.

Fear is big business. The end result: wasted money, very silly looking furniture, and at least one embarrassed guest doing a little dance in the bathroom.

Now, honestly, think this through a minute before you throw away your hard-earned cash: Are you really worried that your child is going to slice an artery on the jagged edge of the plastic wrap? Is he really in danger of impaling himself on a butter knife? Has it occurred to you people how much money you could save if you simply said “no” to your child?

You could purchase a set of those hideous table bumpers for $31.95, or you could simply instruct your child not to run headlong into the coffee table. That’s right! Tell him to stop running in the house! If he insists, well, let him!

Along with that bump on the head, he will gain character. He’ll also learn a valuable lesson he will never learn if you persist in wrapping every sharp edge with unattractive vinyl padding.

Fine, keep your straight razors out of reach, but let your child discover, on his own, how to navigate an unpadded house. He’ll learn life skills, and you’ll save yourself a load of dough. And please, unlock your toilet, before someone has a real accident.

In Los Angeles, this is Christie Mellor for Marketplace


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