At my first "new mommy" class at the 14th St. Y during my maternity leave, the first thing I did after assessing my baby's cuteness factor in relation to all the other babies (verdict: very high), was notice that each mother had taken the time to craft their own very specific blanket set-up on which to set their child. The blanket set-up said a lot about who you were as a mother and what kind of child you were raising. A quilted pink blanket with a ruffled edge meant you were counting down the days before you could enter your future Miss America in the Miss Pre-K East Coast Division Pageantry Circuit. A blue blanket with a truck or train motif meant you were never letting Joe Macho Jr. own a doll. A gender neutral green blanket meant your child would be watching The Rachel Maddow Show in lieu of Sesame Street. I, of course, didn't realize you were supposed to bring a blanket and all I had on me was the hospital grade recieving blanket I had gotten for free from NY Presbyterian. This said that I was either an unpretentious parent who was taking a stand against overblown consumerism or a cheap bastard that didn't really love my child.
But regardless of the individuality displayed in the blanket set-up choice, there was something else I noticed that brought all the moms squarely back onto the same page– every baby was chomping on the exact same toy. It was a squeaky rubber giraffe and as I soon came to learn, it's name was Sophie. And once I was introduced to Sophie, I began to see her everywhere- hanging out in the coolest strollers, keeping babies company as their parents brunched at Bowery Bar, even dangling out of the mouth of a child whose mother always made a point of not following the baby trends. "YOU have a Sophie??" I asked her. She responded matter-of-factly, "Everyone has a Sophie. It's the best toy".
I looked Sophie up online and saw that it cost anywhere from $20–$23. What? You can get a Hot Wheels 20 car gift pack for $19.99! Or this remote control robot for $25.99! Why the hell would any mom, let alone EVERY mom pay over $20 for a rubber giraffe who's biggest feature is that it squeaks when squeezed??? I imagine the remote control robot can fix me my very own drink!
For a couple of weeks I felt very comfortable in my clearly superior choice to buck the current mommy trend du jour. But then that fateful day came when I was making a few necessary purchases at Buy Buy Baby. A sunhat, some rice cereal, and a no-slip mat for the tub. As the woman at the register slowly scanned each item, I could feel someone or something burning a hole in the back of my head. I turned around and saw them– at least fifty Sophies lined up on the wall as an impulse buy right by the counter. They all glared at me, brazenly displaying their $20 price tag. It was like they were daring me to walk out of the store without one. "Don't you want the best for your child?" they seemed be saying.
When I got home, my husband was there to help me unload my purchases. Almost immediately, he plucked Sophie out from the bag. He looked at her and the attached price sticker for a moment and then spoke the inevitable- "I can't believe you spent $20 on a stupid rubber giraffe!" I looked sheepishly down at my feet and sighed, "Neither can I, babe. Neither can I."
UPDATE: I found Sophie on Amazon for the low low price of $17.