In the wake of this week’s toxic toys recall, parents are now faced with the daunting task of taking away beloved toys from their children. An article in yesterday’s Washington Post talks about just how hard this can be.
Colin Kriebel’s summer has been a really cruddy inverse of Christmas. First, in June, the 3-year-old’s beloved (and lead-painted) Thomas railroad cars were recalled. Six toys total, which he’d chug-a-chugged with for more than a year. Then, on Tuesday, the ultimate blow: Colin’s Mattel Jeep, Sarge, which his Burke parents had presented last week as a reward for his first dental visit, was also listed as dangerous. Colin fretfully suggested to his mom that he could just play with Sarge a “little bit.” No dice, said Gretchen Kriebel.
Kriebel, an account executive, has a particularly acute case of guilt. “Colin is at an age where he associates things being taken away with being bad,” she says. “He has a hard time understanding it’s not his fault.”
After June’s Thomas the Tank Engine recall due to lead paint, I was surprised at how hard it was when I explained to my son Sage that he could no longer play with his well worn caboose.
“It has icky paint on it,” I explained. “It could make you sick.”
“But I LOVE that caboose!” he cried. “I want to keep it!”
So what did I do? I offered to take him to the toy store to buy him a new train to make up for the one that I had to take away. Like Kriebel, I didn’t want to him to feel like he was being punished. But that was just one train. What do you do if you’re looking at removing a whole bunch of favorite playthings? Or that special gift from Grandma that your kid waited for and got as a birthday present? This sucks.
If you are going into replacement mode, you might consider buying toys that are not made in China (for obvious reasons). The Post article mentions the toy company, D and ME, a family-owned toy business in Montana, that sells only handmade toys made of wood from sustainable forests, coated in safe paint.
I found a list of sites that sell made in the USA toys on DC Urban Moms, a kickass listserve for parents in the Washington, DC area. The sites all have names that are something along the lines of Made-in-USA dotcom, so I won’t bother with that. Just go here, here, here, and here if you want to check them out.
In the meantime, this article, also in WaPo yesterday, says that China is frantically trying to convince American consumers not to do what I just suggested, that is, avoid products made in China. At a rare press conference at the Chinese Embassy in DC, Baoqing Zhao, the first secretary from the trade and commerce section of Chinese Embassy, said the government takes the recent incidents seriously and is cracking down on problematic companies.
“There are a couple of problems, but the problems are limited,” he said. “What we want is to let consumers rest assured when they use products exported from China,” they are safe, he said.
While he was at it, Zhao also decided to throw in some digs at US manufacturers. A questionable move in my opinion.
Hitting on a theme that has been repeated by Chinese officials, Zhao also pointed out that China has found problems with food and consumer products imported from the United States. Last month, China blocked imports of some U.S. processed meat that it said showed signs of contamination, impacting some of the largest U.S. food companies, including Cargill Meat Solutions and Tyson Foods. Other problematic products, he said, have included large-scale construction equipment, generators and pacemakers.
“In our view, food quality and product safety is an international issue and not an issue limited to certain countries,” Zhao said.
Seems like after you almost poison a nation’s children, you might not go on the offensive at the same time that you’re trying to get the people whose children you almost poisoned to continue to trust you and give you their money. Just a thought.