2006-02-02 / Sam Bari

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand

Baby stress and pampered pets
By Sam Bari

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand

When you see babies next to each other in their strollers, do you ever wonder what they mean when things like, “Googly-googly burgle-nyah” come out of their mouths followed by laughing and giggling? Do you think they’re telling esoteric baby jokes?

Sometimes they look very earnest, and appear to emphasize phrases in baby talk while they gesticulate wildly. Then the expressions on their little faces change from gleeful to somber as they contemplate the subject matter.

I doubt they are saying things like, “How could our parents do this to us? We’re born in a country with a mounting national debt that’s already in the trillions. think that’s more than all our fingers and toes put together.”

No. I’m sure that’s not what they’re saying. If they aren’t old enough to talk in a real language, they haven’t been politically tainted, and they would probably be candid enough to say, “I don’t know what’s wrong with our parents. They really sweat the national debt. This country is so far in debt that nobody will ever call us on it. If we go down, the rest of the world will fall with us because the planet’s biggest consumer will be bankrupt. And nobody wants to see that. Everybody will just keep giving us credit and hope we pull ourselves out of our spiraling economic quagmire while we say, ‘Wow — Look at the mounting national debt.’” Then the babies would go into giggle mode.

I suspect that if we could really translate what babies are actually talking about, they’d be saying things like “I’m so tired of listening to our bickering parents. Mom’s mad at Dad ’cause Archie over there is ridin’ around in a Bugaboo Cameleon stroller. That little number set his folks back $900 bucks at Babysaurus.com. And I gotta ride in a Wal-Mart hand-me-down special for $49.95. Now she’s all embarrassed. Does she really think I care?”

“Hey! How’d ya like to be Archie? I was talkin’ to him the other day and he says he can’t take the pressure.”

“Get-outta-here. What pressure?”

“What? You think ridin’ around in that baby version of a Rolls Royce doesn’t come with a price tag? Don’t kid yourself. They harass him every day. He’s gotta be cuter, bigger, smarter, and better behaved than all the babies in the hood. He’s not even six months old and they’re freakin’ out cause he can’t swim. That silver spoon ain’t exactly pacifier.”

“And look at his clothes. My dad doesn’t dress that good.”

“All he wants to do is throw food off his highchair and his mom and pop are ready to enroll him in Montessori pre-school.”

“Say it isn’t so. Poor guy.”

“I wish I could. When Archie grows up, he won’t have a childhood to remember. If his parents have their way, he’ll be in college by the time he’s 10.”

“Why? Did somebody accuse them of bad breeding? What’s their problem?”

“Who knows? They say they want the best for him, but we know they just wanna be able to brag. Archie’s gonna be a poster child for baby stress.”

“I don’t think I’ll let my parents know I can talk until I’m around seven. That’ll freak ‘em out.”

“You’ll be more than freaked out when they put you in therapy before you’re three.” “Hmmm . . . ya might have point there.”

The truth is: the babies are correct about parental spending and pressure. The baby products industry, catering to humans from infancy to pre-school age is a $20 billion business. That’s a lotta dough. That figure makes the smallest segment of our society, literally and figuratively, one of the largest spenders of consumer dollars in the country.

And it doesn’t include the money spent on therapy.

If space guys are studying our little planet from another galaxy,

2 they could assume that babies enjoy royal status. If they use our spending habits as a yardstick, logic says that babies are at the top of the economic ladder because they live better than everybody else does.

Unless, of course, the space guys happened to check out the pet-care industry — that $35.9 billion dollar business dwarfs baby spending by a wide margin. As sad as it may be, we spend more on our pets than on our babies.

Anyway, if the space guys are watching, they might conclude that babies are kings and queens, but by economic standards, the real ruler of the world could very well be a poodle. I guess it’s just another reason that supports the concept that we live in a system that is impossible to understand.

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