Before you have a kid, you have all sorts of ideas about what you will be like as a parent. My kid isn’t even a year old and already I look back at my pre-parent self and think, “What a fool! You have no idea what you’re talking about!”
One of my big rules about my parenting philosophy was that I didn’t want to buy any toys that needed batteries. I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with batteries, I didn’t want to hear the same shrill songs played over and over, and I felt like My Kid Doesn’t Need Toys That Play Themselves. (Blah blah blah.) Of course, my baby goes to daycare, so it’s not like she isn’t around battery-operated toys (or 100% organic, natural, plant-based-paint, smug hippie wooden toys either). But I still held onto my bias against battery-operated toys until a few weeks ago, and I only had to lose my sanity to get over my bullshit.
When you have a fussy baby, everyone always asks, “Do you drive her around in your car to calm her down?” and most people (without kids) are surprised when I say, “No, that doesn’t work.” I live in a city, so “driving around” is not really something that I do, especially not when I’m trying to calm down a screaming baby. Plus, she doesn’t enjoy being in the car seat, although I had gotten pretty good at tossing toys in the backseat to head off fussy episodes. I had this all figured out. I was SuperMom! Who needs toys with batteries when you have the knowledge of someone who has been a parent for less than a year!
The other day, I was shopping, just idly browsing around the baby section of the store, when I saw this car mirror (specifically, the BRICA Magical Firefly mirror). I had seen it a few times before, in one of my many pre-baby-bored-shopping sessions, and I would scoff, “What kid needs to have lights and sounds blasted at them from the back seat? Isn’t the scenery interesting enough? Why do kids these days [uninformed and rambling rant].” (Oh past self, you have no idea what you’re talking about.)
Immediately after the end of daylight savings time, the sun started setting by 5 p.m., and I found out that my baby is terrified of being strapped in a carseat in the dark. My commute is half an hour long, each way, so after a long day of work, I had to drive a screaming baby home. I tried everything–turning on the light in the backseat, giving her her favorite toys, using the pacifier, singing her songs. (In fact, the only song that ever sort of worked was “The Wheels on the Bus” and I would be deranged after singing that for half an hour.) After a week of constant screaming, my mind drifted over to the magical, singing mirror. I was stubborn, I resisted the urge to buy the mirror.
After ANOTHER week of constant screaming, I buckled. I looked up the mirror on Amazon, but two-day shipping wasn’t fast enough. I ended up ordering the mirror from the store and running over to pick it up on my lunch break. I couldn’t put the batteries in that mirror fast enough. The first night, she screamed 40% less than normal. The second night, she cried, but it didn’t really escalate into screaming and there were pauses of silence. The third night, she stopped crying half-way through the car ride. By the fourth night, the crying had stopped completely, and by the end of the week, she actually started smiling when I unbuckled her at the end of the ride. THE MIRROR IS MAGIC, ALL HAIL THE MAGIC-FUCKING-MIRROR.
A month later, my commute is still scream-free and the baby has even fallen asleep a few times! I’m now terrified of the batteries running out and so I keep a supply in the car at all times. I don’t even care that I get the shrill songs in my head–it’s music to my ears. (My only complaint is that the power button for the mirror is not on the remote control so I have to make sure I push it before I get in the driver’s seat.)
When you become a parent, your view changes on a lot of issues, but if you’re stubborn like me, you still try to cling on to your pre-baby parenting philosophy. Before the mirror, I had made a lot of parenting decisions that already went against my philosophy (don’t even get me started on birth plans), but I was OK with those decisions. For some reason, admitting that I was wrong and buying this mirror made me realize that I needed to just get over myself. For now, I’m actually looking forward to making many more mistakes and being forced to challenge my beliefs. Because that is how I will learn how to be a better person. (Until I have a second kid, that is.)
(I just wanted to add that I was in no way compensated for this product endorsement. Unless you count the fact that I was paid with baby smiles and car silence.)