The other day, one of my friends was telling me all about the baby shower she was planning for the birth of her granddaughter’s first child.
I haven’t been to a baby shower in ages. But the last one I did go to, before the birth of my niece’s first baby, was several years ago, and I was surprised at how much things had changed since the last time I’d shopped for baby items.
For one thing, I hadn’t been to a baby shower since Nixon was president. Back then, expectant mothers didn’t know the sex of their babies in advance, so most newborn babies started their lives wearing either pastel yellow or mint-green clothing.
My niece knew she was having a girl, however, so I went shopping in search of lots of cute little girly things for the baby. Everything for baby girls, I soon discovered, was pink – pale pink, neon pink, dark pink, flamingo pink – pink as far as the eye could see. I felt as if I had been swallowed by a bottle of Pepto Bismol. After a while, I actually found myself searching for pastel yellow or green, just to break up the monotony. I didn’t, however, find anything. So I decided to buy something practical instead, something non-pink – like diapers.
“Is she going to use disposables or go the organic, eco-friendly route and use cloth diapers?” the sales clerk asked me.
“I don’t know,” I said, shrugging.
“Cloth diapers are making a big comeback,” she said, “they don’t harm the environment. I heard that a thousand years from now, today’s disposable diapers still will be completely intact in landfills.”
The vision of a mountain of old, used, disposable diapers that popped into my mind wasn’t an attractive one. However, I also had a flashback to my high-school days when I used to babysit, back when all diapers were made of cloth. I remembered removing the baby’s diaper, dunking it into the toilet a few times to rinse it off, and then putting the sopping-wet diaper into a smelly diaper pail, awaiting laundry day. I also remembered the diaper pins that were used to secure the diapers. They transformed into potentially lethal weapons whenever the baby was squirming.
So I decided to forget about the diapers for my niece’s shower. Instead, I thought a case of baby food might be a better idea. I checked the jars and they were dated far enough in advance so the baby probably would have a full set of teeth by the time they expired.
“Are you sure the mother-to-be isn’t
planning to make her own baby food?” the clerk asked me. “A lot of mothers are
doing that now, to make certain everything is 100-percent fresh and natural.”
Again, I had to say I didn’t
know. Years ago, babies were fed strained peas, strained carrots and
strained beef right out of jars. Nothing fancy, and it probably was loaded with
salt – which, from what I’d heard, now was taboo (I’ll bet if babies could
talk, however, they’d be begging for the salt to liven up their bland food).
“I thought I’d just buy a case of Gerber
baby food,” I said. “I ate it when I was a baby, and I grew up just fine.”
“Well…if you’re certain the mother isn’t
intending to make her own baby food,” the clerk said.
I not only was beginning to dislike the
clerk, I was beginning to wonder if she secretly worked nights for a
competitor, because she certainly didn’t seem too eager to make a sale.
Even after the clerk stopped “helping” me,
I found myself using her method of thinking. I picked up a soft, pink fleece
outfit with little lambs on it. Did the baby clothes have to be made from
organic materials, I wondered? Did they have to be made in
America? Did they have to be hypoallergenic?
I hung the outfit back on the rack.
I then noticed a selection of adorable little shoes – sneakers, Mary Janes, even cowboy boots – all so tiny, they looked like dolls’ shoes. I immediately fell in love with all of them.
It took me quite a while to decide, but I finally picked out a pair of tiny white sneakers that had a lacy lavender border around the tops and delicate lavender flowers sprinkled all over them. They, I felt, were guaranteed to be “ooh-worthy” at the baby shower.
As I was admiring them, a female customer
who was looking at baby socks a couple feet away, smiled and said to me, “Those
I smiled back. “Yes, aren’t they the
cutest?” Finally, I thought, I’d hit the perfect-gift jackpot after all of my searching!
“Too bad they’re such a waste of money,” the woman added. “I mean, it’s not as if a newborn baby is going to be walking anywhere, not for months, so why does it need shoes? It’s kind of like buying a toothbrush for a goldfish, isn’t it!”
So I ended up buying something very basic
and boring, like a changing pad, a blanket with bunnies on it and a dozen baby
I later found out my niece had registered her baby-shower “want list” at Target.
At that moment, I fully understood why gift cards had been invented.
# # #
Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction. Contact her at: email@example.com