Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kids: The Last of the True, Great, Old Fashioned Book Readers

Our kids might be the last of the true, great, old-fashioned book readers. I don’t mean as a generation, although that might be the case, I mean Childhood might the last sacred phase in which reading a paper, board, or anything other than of electronic, book is still commonplace.

This unsettling thought struck me as I walked the aisles of a Borders Bookstore looking for Christmas presents. The store was having a Going Out of Business Sale, which even in my distracted state of motherhood struck me as an obvious clue that times were a-changing. A year ago, I would have looked for a biography, history or a few silly paperbacks by Christopher Moore that send my husband into fits of laughter even on mass transit—but not this year. He’s moved on to his e-reader and giving him a bound book, as much as I still gravitate to them, and as easy as they are to wrap and place a bow on, would be like giving a seventeen year old keys to your horse and buggy.

The modern world has arrived.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Bad Habit

A few nights ago, I went into my two and a half year old’s room and found her balanced on top of the crib railing in an effort to escape. She was afraid to drop back onto the mattress, and rightfully terrified to jump out of crib, so there she lay—like a tightrope walker in need of tummy time, prostrate on the side rail.

Except, unlike the likes of Philippe Petit, my daughter was screaming. I scooped her up and held her tight.

“Why do you do such dangerous things?” I thought.

But, this was Ava. If we hadn’t named her after my husband’s grandmother, “Danger” would be her middle name.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

If it Quacks Like a Duck...defining "children's product" in the age of recalls

Ask me to define “children’s product” and I’ll invite you to walk across the floor of my den. Whatever you step on—puzzle pieces, balls, purple hippopotamuses that slide down ramps, books with a bit of crusted-over oatmeal or red magic marker scribbled on the covers —these belong to the youngest inhabitants of my house.

The law, however, demands more specifics. So, last month the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued its final interpretative rule on what exactly a children’s product is. And, this definition is important because the Consumer Product Safely Improvement Act of 2008, which holds kids’ products to tougher standards for lead, third party testing, and tracking, depend on it.

Why does this matter?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Birth of a Saleswoman

My mother has a white porcelain plate with a maroon figure of a woman in the center. I don’t know if it’s Wedgwood or Haviland, but I know who distributed it: Avon. It was given to my Great-Grandmother Ceil McCoy after years of service to the company in the position known as Avon Lady.

The modern Avon Lady is now the college student selling the company’s brand Mark, a line of cosmetics which, because I am not a college student, I have never actually seen. It’s reportedly more expensive than Avon, and through the use of social media and a generation of energetic Mark Girls, it is taking campuses, sorority houses, and Facebook by storm. The New York Times article about Mark in January highlighted one Ohio State student making $800 a month in commission selling the products on campus and to high school students.

But, in the land of motherhood, Facebook and its cousins are harnessed to take traveling sales forces for other brands into the realm of domestic comfort—making house parties at night as common as play dates in the morning. One of the best things about being at my stage of life is the ability to say “House Party” and not have it followed by a reference to a police raid. There might be a hole in the checkbook, or a few wine glasses to wash, but generally, these parties are most notable for being the fascinating progression of what happens when Brownie Wise's Tupperware party meets the twenty-first century.