Thursday, April 10, 2008

My Ever Popular WTF Series: Someone Needs a Helmet

People invent stuff all the time. Every day, in fact. Once in a great while, an invention will make it's way to the consumer market and the first time you see it, you wonder how you ever lived without it. You wonder why no one had thought of that before now. You wonder why you didn't think of it. The following invention will evoke none of those reactions. At all.

Behold! Thudguard! (Yes, that is really what it's called.)


Thudguard

Sweet Mother of God, have people lost their minds?!?! WTF is that you ask? Allow me....

From the good folks over there at uk.gizmodo.com, we are told that "Babies and toddlers aren’t best known for their ability to stop and go on command. (Or at all, from what I've seen, command or not.) This results in them spending much of their time using their head as the brake for most of their unexpected manoeuvres." Wait. What? It does? HOW? Because when they fall and they, through the forces of gravity, land on their head, it is interpreted as the head being used "as the brake"?! It's not like they CHOSE to use their head "as the brake"! If they could CHOOSE how they were going to manuever and use various parts of their bodies, I highly doubt they'd go with "the head"! No, they'd probably just go with "I don't want to fall down, therefore I shall keep walking upright." Who thinks this is a good idea?!

ThudguardI don't know what the little ear flaps are on top, but they make the thing reminiscent of some sort of helmet worn by Mickey Mouse for his own protection after "the unfortunate tumble down the stairs" in the Magic Kingdom that fateful day. They also appear as if they have the ability to spin around as to allow the youngster to enjoy the freedom of flight (which would seem to detract from the overprotective nature of the invention as a whole). I'm also going to have to say that the material used to construct these things was clearly harvested from the carcasses of dead Teletubbies.

The DTI says (I don't know who or what the DTI is, but it needs to disband immediately.) that there are 500,000 reports of child head injuries each year in Britain. And it was those 500,000 clumsy, head braking youngsters that inspired a Scottish mother of 3 (presumedly also uncoordinated little head brakers) to invent and develop Thudguard. (I guess she couldn't just call it what it is, which is a HELMET.) The Guard Against Thuds is aimed at the unsafe-in-any-position group of children between the ages of 7 months and 2-years old (and who will be under constant supervision from their parents and the Thudguard until they are at least 30).

ThudguardThe Thudguard is made from “impact tested protective foam” to reduce the severity of bumps and thuds. (I'd like to know how the "impact tests" were performed, because you know that they didn't put these things on their precious little snowflakes and shove them down the stairs or anything. Although, judging from the look on the kids' faces, they're kind of looking like that would have been preferrable to actually wearing the Thudguard.)

The Thudguard literature states that Thurdguard "is made from incredibly advanced lightweight foam that gives maximum impact protection around a baby's head in the early years when the fontanelle or soft spot, can be vulnerable. Thudguard eliminates the weight and discomfort of leather, plastic and vinyl covered latex headgear, and all the reasons why children refuse to wear protective headgear." OK, wait a minute. "Leather, plastic and vinyl covered latex headgear"?? Are these clumsy little dandelions The Village People Children? How many babies in the UK are running around with the oh-so-uncomfortable leather headgear?! (You know what? It doesn't matter. If the answer is "one", it's too many!)

I perused the FAQs for Thudguard (because obviously there would be a lot of Qs being Aed F) and I think they should have called them the WTF-Qs. But since they didn't, I will.
  • WTF-Q1: Why is Thudguard unique? (Have you not seen the Thudguard?)

  • WTF-Q2: What is the difference between Thudguard and a cycle helmet? (See above.)

  • WTF-Q3: When should my infant wear a Thudguard? (This is the point I'm trying to get at here...NEVER!!!)

  • WTF-Q4: Is using Thudguard "overprotective"? (Um, yes, yes, and oh, my God, YES!) Of course, they didn't see it that way. They stated it was "quite the opposite" (but only if "opposite" means "the same").

  • WTF-Q5: How did we manage before Thudguard came along? (Contrary to what you're probably thinking, no, I did not make that question up. It was really in the FAQs.)

  • WTF-Q6: How do I get my baby to wear Thudguard? (See? Even the baby knows it's just not right! By the way, they suggest "putting it on fast" or doing it when there is some excitement going on, like "going out to the garden". Wait. What?)
  • One last question: WTF?! WTF?! WTF?!?!

ThudguardSo there you have it. Oh, and remember that part about how the Thudguard is necessary because off that pesky little vulnerable soft spot that they called the fontanelle? You know, the so-called Achilles Heel of the Infant Noggin World? Right. And it needs to be protected at all times, lest it ruin the child's chances at a normal existence? (Hey, just wearing that thing pretty much ensures that the child will grow up to have an existence where, when it all comes to fruition one day, will be described by the neighbors as "the quiet guy in the corner apartment with the funny smells coming out of it".) At the end of the Thudguard FAQs, it asks "Is my child's fontanelle (soft spot) really that vulnerable?" The answer that they give: NO. What does that tell you?

I think it's obvious that there are definitely some soft headed individuals involved when this helmet is the topic. But I don't think it's the soft heads of the kids that we should be the most concerned about. No, I'm thinking that the soft-headed parents who subject their child to overprotectiveness and the "keep my child in a bubble for the rest of his life" syndrome are the ones who should really be wearing the helmet.

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