I used to go to other people’s houses and wonder how they accumulated so many toys for their kids. Then I had a baby and in nine short months ended up with this:
I like to think I’m an informed, fairly cautious mom who doesn’t stray too far into being a hippy-dippy, uber-obsessed, stay-up-into-the-night-worrying-about-the-air-he-breathes kind of mom. But like all babies, O puts everything in his mouth (see him below testing the tastiness of the dog’s ear), so I’ve wondered a lot about how 99% of his toys are made in China and whether it really matters that I spend all this money on organic/BPA-free/natural fiber/etc. stuff when I clearly don’t know anything about the pieces of plastic he sucks on non-stop.
Believe me, I’ve tried to find specifically non-toxic toys and they are mainly a) lame and/or b) ridiculously expensive. But, honestly, don’t we have enough to obsess about with our kids? That’s why I assume the government takes care of this kind of obsessing. We’ve all heard about recalls on Chinese toys made with lead. Our government must have this covered, right?
You might remember Congress passing a law a few years back banning lead and other nasty chemicals a in toys (it only took a mere 30 years after lead was banned in paint). Ok, that’s nice of you, Congress – one less thing to keep us neurotic parents up at night. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the law actually went fully into effect. Apparently it was held up by “complex technical issues,” like whether lead is ok in some toys after all, especially toys for “older” children (i.e. 12-year-olds) who are definitely smart enough not to lick toys or whether lead is ok in books, which no child has ever chewed on (except for my son, who eats books like it’s his job). See this article by Fox News – even with their spin, it’s enough to make this mom’s head spin.
So what does Congress do when they want to change a law that would upset most parents? Two of their favorite tricks! First, bring up the new legislation for a vote in August when no one is paying attention (because they are too busy ripping things out of their children’s mouths). Second, wait to pass it right around the same time as something much splashier, like say, raising the debt ceiling.
And it worked like a charm…kind of like the lead-based charm hanging around your child’s neck.
Hardly anyone paid attention to the bill. I mean, can we really be bothered by kids sucking on poison when the debt ceiling wasn’t going to be raised, banks were going to spontaneously combust and the whole country was going to get sucked into the ocean like that island did in Lost? I don’t think so.
Here’s a good analysis of the new law. (I’d link to a news article on it, but the media didn’t bother to cover it.) Now toy makers can happily go back to making lead-filled toys if doing otherwise would be “not practical” or the toy isn’t “likely” to be put in a child’s mouth. And rather than random testing of toys, they get to provide representative samples. Oh, and you can still put lead in children’s books (collective sigh of insanity).
So I’m whining about this to Tedd the other morning and he says, check out this story in the Tribune about phthalates in toys harming kids and I say, “PHTHALATES??? THEY CHANGED THAT PART OF THE LAW, TOO!!!” (All people with babies have three cups of coffee before 7 AM, right?) I don’t know exactly what a phthalate is, but I now know they can keep on putting them in toys as long as they’re not accessible through “normal and reasonably foreseeable use.” ARGGG!!! How about we just don’t put poisonous things in toys, HUH!?!?!
So before I get hysterical and rip a toy out of my son’s chubby little fingers, let’s imagine what the nice toy manufacturer lobbyists would say to us. They’d say, “blah-de-blah-de-blah, changing the way we make toys would KILL American jobs…jobs trump babies…we win.” Hence nearly every member of the House voting for the new law, Ds and Rs. See, on Capitol Hill, jobs always win (even with toys made in China). That’s why politicians just walk around all day saying, “jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs” until it drills into our brains, kind of like all the annoying songs playing on O’s toxic toys.
Yes, jobs do win because without them the cute little babies don’t get diapers, food and comfy beds, let alone toxic toys. And, yes, I’m VERY lucky to be complaining about toys instead of needing a job. But to quote Ashley G., “in a capitalist society, your dollar’s your vote.” I’ll vote for the people whose job it is to make non-poisonous toys. I am going to try really, really hard to not to buy more crap for O if I don’t know what it’s made of, partly because having a baby IS making me a hippy, but mainly to stick it to the evil toy companies who make me have to become a hippy. And to prove this, I actually walked past the toy aisle in Target yesterday without buying something, which my husband will attest is a first. Take that.
I’m betting this strategy works until my son is old enough to distinguish the difference between a toy and say, the dog’s tail. But until then, I am resolved. So comment and tell me what the cool non-toxic toys are.