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It Begins… with a Spud?

This is a repost of my column on Dad Blogs, Armed And Fatherly, copied here as part of an ongoing effort to archive my various musings that biographers and/or Presidential librarians will probably someday want easy access to.  This particular one is my first, posted April 30th, 2009.

Optimus PegLeg SpudIf I’ve learned only two things during my endless hours trolling the web, it’s that you should always introduce yourself in your first blog post, and that there is an downright unnervingly high demand for cute pictures of cat life. My name is Mark W. Frantz, and I spend most of my days programming websites for the company I work for, and most of my nights searching for the ever elusive ‘prime candidate’ of whatever toy/gadget/ that my wife and/or daughter deem indispensable for our lives. What I’ve learned along the way is that kids in many ways are a lot like Mr. Potato Head – unless you have all the cool parts and pieces, in reality all you have is some molded plastic shaped like a potato. I mean, sure, you can have fun playing with it, but you can’t even get him to stand up without plugging in those plastic feet. Just like kids.

Naturally, things need to be acquired to meet the demands of daily parenting – after all you can’t even leave the hospital with your brand new screaming ball of goo unless you have a fancy car seat installed. And that’s just the beginning. Your child can’t sleep in that old beanbag chair covered in Keystone Light stains left over from your carefree college days – you’ll need at the very least a crib, probably a bassinet, and in some cases a machine that generates actual clouds for newborns to sleep in. Depending upon your child-rearing preferences, you’ll need diapers or possibly newspapers to proactively avoid a mess. Pre-moistened baby wipes or old damp shop towels to clean up what messes do occur. A bulb syringe or turkey baster for forceful removal of snot. The list goes on and on.

This constant need for “stuff” creates a significant issue for me, because I am one of hundreds of a silent minority easily afflicted with a nasty condition known as “Buyer’s Remorse,” which causes me to pine endlessly over even simple purchases, desperately turning over in my mind whether it is indeed worth the extra 20 cents for a Crunchy Taco Supreme despite being exactly the same as a Crunchy Taco sans the sour cream. Take what might be a flippant decision for some (“rich folks” as i call ‘em) and up the level of purchase to a stroller, car seat, or twin engine infant rocket pack, and you can imagine how disastrously heavy it will weigh on my mind.

The only remedy I have found for this is to complete enough research to actually convince myself that I’ve made an informed decision – that I’ve looked over all the variables, read the reviews, and thought everything through. Only at that point, usually after weeks of vacillating and days of constant pestering by my wife to “just buy something,” will I finally unfold my trusty wallet, and pull the Visa out from behind the ALF Fan Club card where it lives it’s meager existence. I’ve honed this process over the years and I am happy to say that, at least in recent times, it has rarely let me down (except for that ShamWow Bathing Suit – it was both pretty uncomfortable to wear and it drained my buddy’s pool).

So what I hope to do in this space each week is to look at some of the purchases that we as parents are generally coerced into making, whether it be at the behest of our spouses, the tug on the pant leg of our children, or by the state trooper that has pulled you over to remind you that you can’t just “belt in a newborn like that – even with the bungie cords the way you have them.” With luck you’ll walk away with a bit of a chuckle and a new-found wealth of knowledge that you can apply confidently in your next purchase and/or bring up at your next playdate/cocktail party.

Thanks for following along – if you have any questions, or any topics you’d like me specifically to cover, feel free to contact me. You can also follow me on my over at HeirApparent and on Twitter.

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