You’ve read the books, you’ve scoured the internet, you’ve done all you can to ensure junior’s well-being for every contingency imaginable, from floods and famine to jellyfish stings. Almost there… keep the following arsenal on-hand to solidify your status as the family superhero.
- Gallon Zipper Baggies
You may know them as Ziploc bags, but to use this term would be unfair to my favorite brand in this category: Hefty OneZips. With an easy zipper tab that slides like ball bearings, even your youngest one can seal in freshness with the best of them.
Function: Hands down the best small-toy transport solution around. Action figures can take their guns to town, Lego vehicles can travel (and fall apart) without fear of leaving essential parts behind, and you can accommodate as many Hotwheels as your kid can carry without a sustaining a hernia. Secondary uses include bringing anything home that contains grains of sand (seashells, this cool rock), is wet, or dead (encourage scientific discovery, parents!).
Location: Keep a couple in the car and a box at home.
- Kitchen Shears
Invest in a quality pair of kitchen shears. Nothing better illustrates the adage “you get what you pay for” than kitchen shears. Go cheap and opening a bag of frozen peas will drive you to drink (think back to using "lefty" scissors as a kid). Lay down a day’s pay on a behind-the-glass showpiece and you'll invoke your inner Connor MacLeod.
Function: Don't you hate cutting your kid's meat and vegetables? Whether you move it to a cutting board or cut on-plate (metal on porcelain - skreee!), it's no fun. With a killer pair of shears, you're in, you're out, you're all eating -- 10 seconds tops. Try to refrain from taunting the steak with "who's your daddy!" as you turn it into taco filling. Another added bonus function: opening packages. How many times have you drawn blood trying to pull plastic molded packaging apart by sticking your fingers into that pathetic starter hole you made with your keys? Cut through it like warm butter with shears, and vengeance shall be yours. And those grey twisty wires that lash toys to their cardboard inserts (that I can never untwist in the right direction!!)? Snip. Next.
Location: Out of reach of children, that's for damn sure.
Everything about this product is scary. The smell that can kill ornamental housepets, the small "secret serum" vial, the eerily smooth amputee feeling when it dries on your fingertips (oh my god I just melted my fingerprints!)... but oh the misery you can avert with this miracle adhesive once you transform that fear into healthy respect.
Function: Fix just about anything inanimate your kid can break. And they only break the toys they love, so it's in every dad's best interest to get that toy back into commission, STAT. For animate objects such as yourself, superglue can also work wonders, but I'd advise the following to be done by yourself and only to yourself. Remember when John Rambo sewed himself up in First Blood? If only he had superglue... This stuff seals cuts like you wouldn't believe. I once sliced open the tip of my index finger with a 9-inch Wustof Chef's Knife. $95 of flesh slicing fury. A few drops, a quick squeeze to join the parts together and I was good to go. A daily application for about 4 or 5 days and I was 100%. Saved a $40 co-pay too. What an amazing 10x ROI for a $4 tube of glue.
Location: Wherever you store other household fix-it items. Just be sure to always have an unopened vial on hand because that little red pin-cap never works. The tip will either be helplessly clogged, or the glue will have somehow found a way out, only to meet an untimely hardening, much like Bubbles the goldfish.
- Cheap Batteries
I know, I know... nothing shows you care like a fresh set of Duracells. I'm not telling you to trust your Kodak moments to second rate 99 Cent Store batteries, but does that yapping, back flipping dog really need to keep going and going? Exactly. Load it up with those batteries with the scary cat jumping though the Q or R or whatever that is, and I guarantee your kid will be bored of that toy before you come close to running out of juice. And no, I don't care if rechargeable batteries are "green." They suck. They last 15 minutes if you're lucky. And if you store a fully charged battery for more than 3 hours, it pretty much renders itself useless. How does the rechargable battery industry live with itself?
Function: Provides low-cost sustainable power for dozens of non-essential playthings scattered throughout the house.
Location: In the toy. But because cheap batteries tend to leak brown goop, take them out whenever possible. I have an expendable battery shelf where I stockpile used (but not used up) batteries.