A few days ago a pregnant friend sent out a desperate message on Facebook. She explained an overwhelming trip to Babys-R-Us that resulted in her feeling like she’d never be fit to raise a child. “Help” she pleaded, “someone please tell me what to register for.”

Eager to jump at a chance to display some parental wisdom  (these opportunities come so rarely) I immediately began composing a response in my head, “Dear friend, children don’t need much. Get a few diapers. Get some onsesies. If you have a sensitive nose get a Diaper Champ or some other device that will make the smell of feces magically disappear from your dwelling place (but you can also just keep your trash on the back porch and occasionally spray it with Febreze). The end.

It was such a neat little note, just what a pregnant mom would want to hear. I decided I’d type it up just as soon as I finished packing for our weeklong family vacation. I’d make it a bit softer, add in some calming humor and press send.

But then something very disturbing happened… as I walked around the house gathering items for the trip I found myself serenaded by the following inner monologue: 

“OK… I better pack six shirts, and also a sweatshirt for the cold nights- and make that two sweatshirts because if she’s wearing anything at night it will likely be covered in ice-cream by the second day. Then I’ll need these orange shoes and also these green shoes for the days when she suddenly and quite arbitrarily decides that these orange shoes are the wrong color and are too tight.

I’ll also need to bring these rubber bands for keeping her hair out of her eyes, and these clips for when she refuses to wear these rubber bands. And I’ll need this brush and this detangling spray just in case she lets me brush her hair and these scissors and that comb in case she doesn’t and I have to cut it all off once and for all.

And I’ll need her toothbrush, and her special toothpaste, and the floss that she does not actually use but likes to pretend to use. And I’ll need the thermometer in case she catches a summer flu, and baby Tylenol in case she catches the summer flu and the vitamins in the hopes that we can avoid the summer flu all together.

I’ll also need the diapers for land, and the diapers for water, and the underpants for when she’s experimenting with no diapers at all, and the roll of paper towels for when the experiment goes awry.

And I can’t forget her special cup, or her other special cup, or her other special cup, or the special straw that she uses in the bathtub. And speaking of special things… I will need to pack her very favorite stuffed black cat, and her very favorite stuffed purple cat, and her very favorite stuffed brown cat. Additionally I’ll need her important baby, and her important books, and the broken leg from the plastic side table that she likes to pretend is her important walking stick.

And I’ll need sunscreen, and that yellow hat that she likes to wear every morning when she’s pretending to be a taxi driver. And I’ll need those puppets, and that maraca, and that notebook for writing about all the stuff she does with those puppets and that maraca. And…”

Suddenly I had an entire store’s worth of goods sprawled out on the floor.  It looked like the scene from “The Cat and The Hat” when the cat has taken over and turned the house upside-down and inside-out and the fish is staring the reader dead in the eyes like, “We’re fucked!”

I immediately began composing a new letter to my pregnant friend. “Dear friend, buy nothing. NOTHING!! I’d like to repeat that for good measure. NOTHING!!

Diapers will only lead to training pants, which will lead to underpants, which will lead to music and books about potty training, which will lead to little potties for home and little potties for on-the-go, and an arsenal of cleaning supplies for when all the little potties fail you.

Onesies (even just a few) will lead to matching pants, which will lead to socks, which will lead to shoes, which will lead to other shoes, which will lead to hats, which will lead to tangled hair. And this tangled hair will lead to conditioning products, and detangling products, and combs, and brushes, and clips, and scissors, and arguments over said combs and brushes and scissors which will lead you to need” that one special” stuffed animal or calming CD or pacifier that will make it all better.

Resist. If you must register for anything, register for a large open field where your diaperless, clothesless baby can run naked amidst the grass. She’ll pee where she likes so there will be no need for diapers- no need for portable defecation devices. She’ll fertilize your land- you’ll be able to grow a kick ass vegetable garden and won’t have to buy her overpriced kid-friendly snacks or snack carrying contraptions. She’ll be out there fashioning a baby doll out of a pinecone. She’ll be whittling a train using the sticks she finds in her field. The wild cats will lick her clean every night. The birds will nest in her hair so you won’t need to worry about brushing that either. They’ll lay eggs in there and at breakfast time she’ll pick one out of her tussled mane, rub two rocks together to make a fire and cook up an omelet. You won’t need kiddie forks, or sippy-cups, or drinking straws, or bibs, or splat-mats, or highchairs, or booster seats or little toys that suction-cup to those booster seats and highchairs, she’ll be eating her home-cooked grub under a little oak tree while being serenaded by a dove. And what will you be doing as your self-reliant, stuff-less child goes about her day? You’ll be RELAXING in a reclining lawn chair in your lovely little field.  The end.”

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