Necessity is the mother of invention, but I am the mother of a few great ideas. Most don’t actually make it to the development phase. After a frantic scribble on the back of a Dora coloring book or in the dirt on the side of my car, my entrepreneurial mojo is often spent. But, on occasion, when inspiration is not depleted by perspiration, and when what might be referred to as a “pen” is within arm’s reach, I document my ideas the way most geniuses do: on cocktail napkins.
Sometimes, I mail these off to my old college roommate, a former venture capitalist who knows a great idea when she hears one.
A category to which mine do not actually belong, apparently.
The first, and perhaps most inspired idea, came to my husband and me after a five hour trip to Arizona, during which we were starved, ridiculed, and made to feel like idiots. And, that was just by the flight attendants. If my daughter hadn’t gotten a bloody nose, a benign predicament that thankfully produced enough mess to look like something far worse, we’d have never caught a break from the judgmental scowls aimed our way. Or gotten to use the bathroom.
And, thus was born:
Tot Air: the airline for families with children, where the flight attendants are dressed like Elmo, food carts spilleth over with juice boxes and cheese sticks, luggage is no longer an eight letter word, and Nick Jr. is continuously broadcast at a frequency perceptible only to those under eleven. It was a great idea, my roommate said. But, there was one problem with this concept for an airline.
It was an airline.
No problem. The family on-the-go doesn’t need its own bankrupt airline to make life easier. How about simply some improved snack options?
The Refillable Squeezy Tube: the single use kind, primarily reserved for expensive apple sauces and exotic veggie/fruit purees at Whole Foods, would be washable and able to be refilled by parents, becoming eco-friendly and cost effective. It’d also be messy, a breeding ground for bacteria, and... not about to happen.
That’s fine. Not everyone has time to puree.
But, everyone has loose change. Some, technically, not legal US tender.
Coin Star Machines for Parents: These would accept tokens from Chuck E. Cheese; Disney World; or, your honeymoon, when you went to Italy and didn’t in your wildest dreams think you’d remain stateside so long that the EURO would replace the lire before you made it back again. Credit would be issued in pesos, or depending on the strength of the dollar, dollars.
I’ve got other ideas, but usually include only one per holiday card, so you’ll now have the privilege of being the first to hear about them.
Laundry Sort and Fold Alice: A robot, dressed like Alice from “The Brady Bunch”, which is able to sort and fold laundry. Clothing would have to be encrypted so Alice would not confuse your older daughter’s shirts with your youngest daughter’s dresses, the way my husband does, despite being a sentient human being.
Mobile Minivan Cleaner: Mobile car washes that cruise the suburbs, able to clean a minivan in less than twenty seconds by first blasting the exterior with fire hoses and then, essentially, doing the same to the inside.
What’s for Dinner Roulette: Putting the best of probability, vending machine technology and NASA’s advancement in space food to use, this refrigerator-sized unit has a roulette wheel on the outside, and packages of freeze dried goodness within. Just toss the ball to discover what tasty packet of “dinner” will be on your table in minutes.
Auto Response Talking Pen: By four in the afternoon, children’s auditory functions can no longer distinguish between the sound of their parents’ voices and that of car radios, tuned to AM static. So, save your breath and use this talking pen. It comes with four standard phrases, “I already told you we’re not getting that”, “Stop hitting your sister”, “Please take your underwear out of the dog bowl”, and “Yes, Grandma is more fun than mommy.” For those not afraid of therapy bills, or of having their children tweet a tell-all memoir about them in fifteen years, the pen also comes with a positive re-enforcement option, as well. “Good job!”, “Nice effort,” “Almost did it”, and “No need to compare yourself with your brother,” are shouted with appropriate enthusiasm.
Osmosis Book Club Pillow: Really, who has time to make the appetizers and read the book? (This idea came to me in freshman biology but, to be honest, has no other scientific research supporting its effectiveness.) Simply place the book in the pillow, sleep on it, take Motrin for any incurred neck pain, and you’re set. It really is the next best thing to listening to the audio version.
And, finally, for those like me who have relinquished maintenance of their Netflix queue to their husbands, an app that automatically kicks out movies with particular key words, such as, “Schwarzenegger”, “Gnomes”, “Jud Apatow” and "Die Hard the Prequel”. A similar option is available for husbands, whose wives have monopolized the movie list, targeting keyword options such as “Under the Tuscan Sun”, “Beaches”, and “Rachel Ray, Fasta Pasta”.
Where am I in the development of these ideas? Let's just say I take comfort in knowing that one day, not long ago, the Slap Chop, Koozie, Heated Chip and Dip Tray, and Snuggie, were not always the “As Seen on TV” stars they are today.
I have no doubt I'll find an idea that has my old roommate asking for a meeting with me faster than you can say, "get a sitter."
I’m a mother.
There is no end to my invention.
Have an idea for something to make life easier? Leave a comment and tell us about it.....