Note: The Spike Files is a series capturing some of the, um, less-wildly successful pitches as yours truly makes a "real" attempt at writing professionally. The names and dates have not been changed because that would be too much work.
I got lucky with my two kids, I know that. They aren't lactose intolerant and they never had colic. They've slept through the night basically since we brought them home from the hospital. At ages 3 and 1, they've been sick just a handful of times between them. We're on a bit of a hot streak. Most people have a much harder time adjusting to the minute-by-minute schedule full of stresses and challenges that comprise parenthood, I know. I really do.
This is a product clearly aimed at first time parents, because first time parents are the dumbest people on the planet. It doesn't matter if you're 20 or 40 or 100 (but please don't be 100), when you wring another person out of your already stretched-too-thin genetic material, you lose access to a small portion of your brain that doesn't come back until you manage to find and abuse the right combination of drugs.
It'll happen to Zach Lowe, who is one of the most brilliant writers working right now (congrats, Zach!) It happened to me, and brought my general intelligence level dangerously close to non-functional for a long period of time. It happens to everyone. You really can't help it. Your mind and body are preparing to care for an incredible challenge that doesn't involve the Taco Bell dollar menu for once, and social convention more or less forces you into spending all of your money in the weeks leading up to an event the precise timing of which, oh by the way, is impossible to predict. So the inevitable conspicuous consumption is understandable, if not totally defensible.
I, too, was a victim of this phenomenon. For one, I bought a minivan about 6 months before we even had our first kid, which is a great way to kick-off your mid-twenties, if you were wondering. And it's not like now we're lugging my 3 year old and a half dozen of her friends out to the mall on Saturdays or something. She's three. She doesn't have any friends. Neither of us do. We're each other's friend - I'm just the asshole who always gets stuck being the designated driver. By the time she has things to do outside in the real world, our van will be in some apocalyptic Mad Max-esque demolition derby and I'll be driving an all-electric 1000hp sports car. Hop in, kiddos. Sorry, daddy's new car doesn't have a back seat or doors.
We also bought (and were gifted by other people, who were equally dumb and/or read our dumb registry) things like a baby wipe warmer, a pacifier/nipple sanitizer, a bottle warmer and proprietary diaper disposal containers. These are all useless, and they are all scams. You do not need these, but you will make room in your home for them, until your child educates you and you throw them all out in a fit of rage unlike any your wife has seen since the last time the goddamn Patriots won the goddamn Super Bowl. Go sanitize your hoodie, Belichick!
Wipes and diapers get shit on them and go in the garbage, anything else is just a diversion. And if you need to sanitize everything that your kid puts in his/her mouth, you should also just go in the garbage, because eventually you are going to have to boil your cat and go to jail if you don't wise up. Bottle warmers are probably useful for some people, I'll allow, but it never mattered for us. Our kids take after their daddy - they like a few cold ones, straight from the fridge. Hey Playtex, make the bottle turn blue when it gets cold; that's something we actually could use around here.
I don't normally like ads, except the ones that indirectly allow me to be paid of course, but even I will admit that the Luvs "Live and Learn" campaign rings 100% true. We do mostly buy Luvs, because they are cheap, but I will also buy the store brand disposable diaper if I get a wild hair or something, and guess what? The kid shits into them just fine. Not once have I missed the Huggies with the urine-activated blue strip or reinforced double alloy side panels or whatever the hell justifies the insane price tag on those things.
This household is not a technophobe/hippie household, either. Our first kid slept in the bed with us for a while, sure, but we didn't get all Blossom-y and make her crawl back into the womb every year or whatever. We have baby monitors, and those are useful for determining if one of them is really awake or just fussing. Sometimes we will use an IP camera to check on them if we're not home and want to see what they're up to. Our oldest even plays with an iPad on the toilet! (To be clear: she holds it in her lap, like a grown up, and watches weird Vietnamese anime.) Hell, I even bought a washing machine that can ring my phone when a load of laundry is done.
But when my girls are crying, I comfort them. When they need help sleeping, I hold them. Kids crave attention, which is quite literally natural. But sometimes they just like knowing they're not alone. They'll sleep in a different room most of the time, as long as they know you're nearby. When they were little, we'd stick our kids in the living room and cook dinner every night. In fact, we used to use a swing very similar to the Fisher Price above, except I could turn it on by pushing a button attached to the swing (that was very advanced at the time). If that meant I had to turn off the iPad, get off the toilet, and go look at my kid for a second, by God, I'd do it. Does that make me better than the parents who buy Fisher Price's $200 4-in-1 Smart Connect Cradle 'n Swing? No, of course not. But it does make me smarter. A hell of a lot smarter. $200 is a huge price premium for no good reason! This terrifying, robotic spider contraption costs half as much, and comes with the added bonus of not turning you into one of those doughy, armchair Wall-E people that can't take a leak without unlocking your phone first. It does everything you need a swing to do, and then some. I mean, damn, I couldn't even name 10 peaceful melodies, and I played the saxophone for four years. Don't overthink this stuff, folks. You've got enough to worry about without updating apps to interface with your baby properly.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go charge my phone. The baby will be up soon and I will have to go back to streaming Taylor Swift videos to the Chromecast.