Buying into Baby
There’s so much Stuff to buy for your kid!! Welcome to the pressure I’ve felt for the last 7 months. And I’m not talking on my bladder. No. Some people call it ‘nesting’. I call it a prime opportunity for our consumer culture to hoist a bunch of unnecessary crap your way. Short term crap, most of it. With an expiration date of a few years, if not months or even weeks in the the case of those newborn clothes. This is stuff you gotta have. At least some of it, but we ain’t talking life and death and heirlooms here. Oh, I’m sure I’ll tuck away a couple outfits and blankets for posterity. When it comes to breast pumps, nursing pillows, and pack-n-plays though, what do I much care?
The problem is people get a little nutty about baby stuff.
Exhibit A: Our car seat. Confession: It is second hand.
Crash. Boom. Bang. Gasp. Shoes dropping. Worlds ending. Indignant mothers ACTIVATE!
Dont I KNOW car seats can’t be second hand!? What if they’ve been in an accident? They have expiration dates FOR A REASON. Apparently, if past those dates the seat could completely disintegrate at ANY MOMENT! Car accidents happen! My child could be IN DANGER!
CALL PROTECTIVE SERVICES! STAT! This IS life and death!
Take a deep breath. Put down the phone. Disengage the IP tracking and photo identification in an attempt to locate the woman doing her unborn child a grave disservice. Hear me out.
The car seat came from my BFF, with whom I am in almost constant contact. If there is anyone on the planet earth who I would know has or has not been in a car accident, she is in the top two. In recent history, with or without the car seat, she has not. Then there’s the issue of that expiration date. Another fear not. This seat is less than 2 years old. Further, for at least the last 6 months of that, it has not been exposed to the major temperature swings that degrade the plastic as a result of living in car.
This car seat is fine. I am 100% not worried about it. It cost me $0. It is infant ready, which is more than I can say for the rest of our lives.
Yet, the reactions listed above aren’t actually much of an exaggeration from what I’ve experienced. I quickly learned not to mention used car seats. Except, ya know, here. It’s right up there with co-sleeping, vaccines, circumcision and breast feeding. A hot button issue, who knew? Guaranteed moral indignation. Lectures ensue. Common sense (and courtesy) seem to leave the building. Rapidly.
I get it. We all want to protect babies. Small, helpless, squalling, pudgy buddhas, incapable of looking out for themselves in any way. They are worthy of our protection. The worthiest even. We are programmed for this. Somewhere along the way though, that’s gotten a little mixed up. Reason has been stricken from the equation. Let’s just throw more money at it. Let’s buy shiny and new everything, because thats better. It must be safer, otherwise they wouldn’t make it. To the detriment of our planet and our pocket books. That is, our kids future. Just in case that car seat spontaneously disintegrates.
Never mind, everything recalled was new once upon a time. Pay no attention to the mounds of toys, swings, onesies, wipe warmers, disposable diapers, boppy pillows, and bassinets clogging up our Goodwills, consignment stores or, even worse, not rotting in our landfills. To justify not spending money at the risk of ‘endangering a child’ is wrong. Who can argue that? I wouldn’t. If I actually felt I was endangering my child. Instead of making smart use of the resources available to me. And not feeding into the culture of fear. The culture of fear that carefully feeds the culture of consumerism. Buy it for safety. Buy it just in case. Buy it because its the only baby you will ever have and you don’t want to fuck them up. Fight depravity as you keep that kid safe.
I’m not advocating for second hand car seats. There are concerns. Real ones, that despite the tongue in my cheek, do prominently feature life and death. My freebie second hand number addresses all those more than adequately, while still being both free and second hand. I am advocating thinking for yourself. That is, outside the box, beyond the lists of ‘have to’s’ and ‘musts’. If it doesn’t apply to you, then it doesn’t actually apply to you. Disregard. Trust yourself. Tuck that money away for a time when your kid really does need it.
But for God sakes, don’t bring it up in mixed company.