Thursday, September 6, 2007

Can we just call a do-over?

Lately I have been experiencing a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Every day on the news there are more images of recalled toys, contaminated with lead, that I know are lurking somewhere in our home. First, the confession... I am an over-indulgent parent. My husband is innocent of all charges. It is purely my fault. Can't explain it. Maybe I just love the look of pure joy that comes over their faces when they get something new. Maybe I'm trying to satisfy some void from my childhood. Who knows, but whatever the reason, for the kids, we just gotta have it.

It started with Thomas the Tank Engine. Our boy was 2. Every one of those engines has its own name, demeanor and history. If you get Thomas, you have to have James. And if you get James, it would be a shame to not have Gordon. And do you know that there is a snow covered Thomas, a bee covered Thomas, and a spilled paint covered Thomas? Yup, there is. I wish I were kidding. These toys by their very design are engineered to be big black holes that you continue to throw money into. I swear I think I noticed a trader from Wall Street following us around and recording our purchases. From Thomas Train we graduated to Geo Trax, and then on to Pixar Disney Cars. Every one of these lines has now had recalls due to unsafe levels of lead.

Enter: Pink. A whole new estrogen-driven obsession. Dora, Nick Jr. and all their friends, and of course, their playsets. Oh, and don't forget about Barbie, who has an entire section dedicated to her at Toys-R-US!

So there you have it. Got the picture? We have gazillions of toys. Some leaded, others unleaded. The recall lists are pages long. Mattel expects you to run around and check every serial number, every detail of every toy against these lists. Yes, we are to trust their product safety department that the lead is ONLY in the pieces that they say so.

Note to Mattel: It ain't going to happen! Instead, lets call a do-over! How about if we just load up all the toys from any manufacturer that has had lead recalls, ship them back to headquarters at their expense, and they just write me a check. Plus the $30. it is going to cost to have the kids lead-tested at the Public Health Department. Oh, and while they are at it, they can send someone out to help me hold them down.

I can imagine the conversation.. Me: Yes, I would like to return all of these toys for a refund. Them: No, maam, we are just replacing them with a safe product. Me: But I would prefer a full refund. I don't want them replaced. Them: Well now, that's not fair, your children have had the benefit of playing with these toys. Me: But now they have lead poisoning. Them: So? they still got to play with the toys!

OK, so many parents are in this boat now what do we do about it? The Peoria Public Health Department is offering lead testing to all Peoria County Residents ages 6 mths. to 6 years. I called the Peds office and they recommend if you find these toys in your home the children should be tested. Practically speaking, this means every child who has not lived the first 6 years of their lives in a closet should be tested. The lead screening is $15. per child, but free if you have a WIC card or are indigent. Often there are NO SHORT TERM SYMPTOMS of lead poisoning in a child. So just because you have a little Einstein running around does not mean he or she cannot be a victim of lead poisoning.

Another sad fall-out to all of this is it has dashed some of my fantasies of being a grand parent. I always imagined not only our children playing with these toys but our grandchildren as well. Ah, not to be. Unless the little buggers start getting on my nerves!! Just kiddin!!

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

My kids are older (12 and 13) so we haven't had to deal with this, but I have younger nieces and it's just awful; what do you do when the lead toy is your child's favorite? You have to get rid of it, but it's just so hard.

I wonder what places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army stores are doing? Hopefully they are pulling those toys off their shelves, too.