Tuesday, November 26, 2002

The Consumer Parents Sanity Commission

With holiday shopping panic and desperation season starting in just two short days, it seems a fitting time to check out the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Holiday Toy Recall Checklist of gifts unfit for giving. CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton is quoted as saying "Preventing needless tragedies and providing a safe environment are the best holiday gifts parents can provide their children," which is a big relief because I thought I was going to have to actually purchase some toys. Now I can just keep the tree and the gift wrap packed away and give my children the priceless gift of safety. Never mind that not getting the toys they've demanded and dreamed of will strike them as a needless tragedy indeed.

Included on the commission's list of naughty toys are pedal cars decked in lead paint, cotton candy machines that can heat up to the point of catching fire, toy planes that can burst apart in midair, and baby walkers that can fall down stairs. A lump of coal to those manufacturers, for sure. But why don't they ever recall any toys just for being so obnoxious that they can cause parents to burst apart, catch fire and fall down stairs? What's a little lead paint compared to obnoxious electronic noises or games with 500,000 tiny pieces or dolls that require more accessories than their human owners? I remember one year somebody gave my son an ice cream truck with an electronic jingle and repetitive "Ice cream! Ice cream!" voice so incessantly annoying that I had to "accidentally" break the battery compartment door so it could never be heard from again. Why doesn't anybody ever recall that?

Perhaps nobody's ever had the initiative. Until now. I hereby introduce the Consumer Parents Sanity Commission, dedicated to cataloging the nation's most dangerously nerve-grating toys and giving other parents fair warning. If your child's acquired a particularly perplexing plaything, send us the name of the item, the manufacturer's name, and your complaint, and we'll start making our own list of would-be recalls. Tell your kids the toy they're crying for's so unsafe, it's been written up by the CPSC. The real meaning of those initials can be our little secret.

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