Made in China

Laura - Gladstone, Oregon
Entered on October 26, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in 8:15. At 8:15, my three-year-old son is finally asleep in bed, clutching his best friend, Nutmeg. No more running, falling or screaming for the night. No more “just one more book, Mom.” No more “Mom, I missed the potty!”—at least not until tomorrow morning.

At 8:15, we close the playroom door off from the living room and suddenly, the house is clean again. Those tiny little red and blue trains with the creepy gray faces vanish into a room of systematic plastic clutter, all of which was made in China. It’s a harsh reality that in our current society, there is an entire industry devoted to organizing our stuff. The Container Store. California Closets. Hold Everything. Pods. Americans purchase so much excess junk that we need to buy more things just to hold it all. We pay for it, fill it up and start the process all over again, until the full container is our house, so we uproot and buy a new larger one.

At my house, we squeeze it all into one 8 by 9 playroom filled with picture books, Dora the Explorer DVDs and that plastic play food that teaches my son about nutrition: hot dogs, pink frosted donuts, miniature soda pop bottles and even little plastic pats of butter, in the event that he wants to top off the pepperoni pizza slice. Indeed, an afternoon spent in the playroom can be similar to a trip to Toys ‘R Us. There is even that strange soundtrack that accompanies kids’ stuff. Toys often have quirky little songs that are meant to entertain but often do little more than warp the listener’s mind. Who knew there were so many ways to interpret “Old MacDonald Had a Farm?” Then, the batteries begin to go and each song takes on a new, disturbing, trippy, Willy Wonka kind of vibe. Pink Floyd’s got nothing on a low-battery Fisher Price baby manipulative. Nothing.

Last year, my husband and I made a New Year’s Resolution to buy fewer things that were made in China. For many purchases that we tend to make, this was relatively easy. Outdoor gear, books and office supplies are made worldwide. But not toys. Just about every toy we own was made in China. In fact, my son thinks “Made in China” is a brand name. By the time he was two and a half, we learned to avoid the toy aisle at the grocery store. He figured us out, though and would begin to scream “but I want Made in China” as soon as we turned the cart the other way. Heck. Without Made in China toys, our playroom would be empty. Empty. We could use that room for something else. A guest bedroom. An office. A library. Yeah, a library.

Until then, we will just have to tolerate our daily countdown to 8:15 when we can just close the door and ignore it. So it goes. I believe in 8:15.