Monday, August 6, 2012

The Inconvenience of Modern Conveniences

The comedian Louis C.K. does a brilliant bit about how, no matter how great technology gets and no matter how much easier life  becomes, humans always, always find a way to be dissatisfied. 

Flying? When is the last time someone you knew had a positive review of their flight? Never mind that flying has made the world smaller and taken us places we'd never otherwise go. Nope, we ignore all that (disregard that you're "sitting on a chair in the sky" as Louis C.K. puts it) and declare with unanimity that flying sucks.  
He's right but, so am I. 

Cell phones? Another modern convenience that many have found a way to hate. Occasional dropped calls are just too much for some folks to overlook. ("It's sending the signal to space! Can you give it a minute to send the signal to space and for the message to come back?" Louis C.K. asks.)

This concept goes for parenting an infant to a huge extent. 

It's no stretch to say that parents have never had it better than they do today.  
We've got form-fitted pillows that wrap around our waist so that you and the child can be close and comfortable at the same time. 

We've got strollers trimmed in chrome and aluminum that rival Roman chariots in their grandeur. They look this good and then they fold up small enough to fit in a backpack. 

We've got baby monitors synced up to our cell phones so we can see if our child is sleeping while we're away on business two time zones away. 

We've got doodads and whowhatsits strapped to our children's cribs that emit soft light and project pleasant images, all the while playing Beethoven or Strauss. The imagery and the music are all designed to stoke the creative and intellectual fires of our infants early, so that one day they will burn brighter than all those who came before them. 

I mention this only to convey that I am aware of how unaware we can be. If you're reading this, odds are life is better for you than it is for most people. I get it. Truly, I do.

But, but, but can someone please explain to me how we have all of these insane, amazingly helpful and sometimes bafflingly useful things and still not one company has figured out a way to clearly label a nipple for a baby bottle. 

At first blush this doesn't sound like much. "Fast, medium," or "slow" nipple? What's the difference right?

The difference could be a sleeping baby or a gassy, crying baby that leaves you a frazzled heap of nerves after 20 minutes, but won't be stopping for another hour.

The difference could be a baby taking 45 minutes to finish a bottle or 15; at 3:30 in the morning this is indeed a big 30 minutes. 

The difference might be the baby finishing their food or taking the bottle too fast and spitting it up. Breast milk and formula are equally precious commodities parents cleave to, not wanting to waste a drop, for good reason too. 
Pictured, but not pictured: any kind of label as to how fast the nipple is. 

Yesterday, I stood preparing a bottle with a plentiful supply of daylight bathing our kitchen (aka good light to read what might be embossed on a plastic nipple).

The bottles were full and I found myself searching for nipples to cap them off with. They are clear, as is the labeling that denotes what speed they are. 

This is a tough arrangement on its own. But, add to that the fact that the writing is incomprehensibly small and you've got a recipe for frustration. (Many of the bottles feature writing in Spanish too. I suppose that's one way to learn.) 

Some manufacturers have dispensed with language altogether and use a rain-drop-shaped icon on the base of the nipple. One drop means slow. Two means medium and three means fast. 

This is a great system except for the fact that the tiny drops are impossible to locate, thanks in part to the aforementioned clear writing on the clear background and because they're, well, tiny. 

"Have you thought about using a marker?" you might ask. Sure I've thought about it, but my thoughts stop dead when I consider my wife's response to me smearing the contents of a Sharpie onto the same spout her son will be drinking from.

There is a fix however. When things are quiet and the lighting is good, I can take my time and separate the nipples and store them separately. 

Finding time for these mundane tasks isn't always easy for a parent but, until Dr. Brown or the good folks at Playtex or Gerber get their act together this is what we're left with. 

Louis C.K. was right, it's not that these things are all that tough it's that you get used to things being easy. 


Rona Kay said...

Dude, I got this. Sharpie on the outside rim of the nipple (the part that fits under the bottle ring). Red for slow, yellow for medium, green for fast. You can draw a circle all the way around that sucker in your choice of colors. No milk will touch that side.

Blackwell said...

Heh. Nice Rona Kay. We'll have to try this -- it's gotta be better than the labeled zip lock baggie approach we're currently utilizing.