As Published in the Rye Record on September 25, 2015
My son’s third grade class studied inventors last spring. Every day he came home with another fascinating story of an invention like the light bulb or the automobile. It was inspiring to him and to me, because it made us see how people who get really tired of the status quo (candles, walking) can use that frustration to find tangible, life-changing solutions. I cannot think of a group of people who are more frequently frustrated by the status quo than moms.
Things have to get bad enough for people to invent things. It’s that last straw moment, the one where you just wrecked your freshly painted wall with that innocuous Scotch tape, that leads to something like a Post It. Because moms are constantly being handed the last straw, it’s surprising that the world isn’t full of mom inventors.
There are some great things that have already been invented by moms in distress. Take Baby Einstein – an endless loop video that mesmerizes your child with simple images and classical music, all in the name of brain development. I imagine the woman who invented it reaching her boiling point, “I need a break! And I don’t want to hear any grief about my kid spending the day in front of the TV! Wait. What if I convince people it’s making him a genius?” Millions of dollars and a few guilt-free breaks later, I say she’s the genius.
I have some of my own ideas, in case some of you STEM-focused doers want to get on it. First and foremost, a TV with a heat sensor that turns itself off when no one is in the room. If this isn’t invented, the blare of ESPN’s du-du-du from an unwatched TV will someday be my undoing.
Secondly, moms are busy. How about a time saving pill that targets whatever part of your body dictates hair color and then changes it into the shade of your choice. Tablets would come in the same kind of boxes that hair dye is sold in, with photos of models wearing Sunshine Blonde, Ginger or Raven. This would potentially save a person who dyes her hair 17 hours a year, more time than her kid probably ever watched Baby Einstein.
Someone should invent socks with very weak magnets in the ankle. The magnets wouldn’t be strong enough to affect walking, but when they are thrown in the laundry they are drawn to each other. Maybe they are heat activated? Also: sock GPS is a must. It would be awesome to go online and be able to track all your socks to their exact location. (As you know, many of you would be tracking your socks to my house. See you soon!) And how about an odor eliminating fabric that would keep the rest of the laundry from being contaminated? Odor-lock Socks ™ Is that already a thing? It should be a thing.
How easy is this?: A package of 8 rolls of paper towels each decorated with sequential numbers. The last roll would be decorated in colorful number 8s, reminding you that you are nearly out of paper towels.
Here’s one I’ve been thinking about for so long that it’s almost been invented: a localized online data base for stuff you want to loan and borrow. Everyone in your neighborhood just signs up and enters what they have to loan, and then they browse through to see what other people have. It would be mostly stuff you need once a year and don’t want to have to pay for or store. I have 40 wine glasses, do you have a chaffing dish? I have six folding chairs, do you have a bouncy castle? I know. It’s brilliant, and it’s yours, seriously, run with it.