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Being the Best Mom Is Worth a Hill of Beans

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

According to child development experts, above all else parents should always be consistent. I have done a very good job in this area. You can tell because my kids consistently refer to me as “the worstest mom. Ever.”

After nearly 10 years of parenting, I’ve grown quite accustomed to such highly complimentary phrases. After all, youngsters say many things they don’t really mean, except when discussing body piercing and their intention to affix a jumper cable clamp to their upper lip. So I was understandably surprised when my children recently informed me that, at least for several minutes, they considered me “the bestest mom. Ever.”

What caused this dramatic turn of events? The answer can be summed up in two simple words: successful exorcisms. Just kidding. Actually, the two simple words are: Beanie Babies.

For those unfamiliar, you’ve obviously been in a coma, because Beanie Babies are the biggest toy craze to hit these United States since whatever was the biggest toy craze to hit these United States last month. Made by Ty Inc., Beanie Babies are wildly popular, squishy stuffed animals that are uniquely designed to do, essentially, absolutely nothing.

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Since their 1994 introduction, these toys have been more difficult to find than Demi Moore’s natural breasts. I earned my bestest-mom-until-you-won’t-let-us-eat-Cheez-Its-for-dinner title by happening upon a retailer apparently well-connected in the shadowy underworld of plush toy distribution. He had a major supply of Beanie Babies.

At the time, I wasn’t aware that I’d stumbled across the most significant find since Marco Polo discovered that his name was ideally suited for playing an especially annoying swimming pool game, so I purchased only two of the toys. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have bought the entire inventory. Then I would have sold the toys at many times their suggested price, and become wealthy enough to live on a secluded island where bean-filled creatures hadn’t caused a large segment of the population to willingly replace their brains with 5 ounces of instant breakfast cereal.

Consider these facts:

* The original Spot the Dog beanie, which initially sold for $5, now commands more than $1,000.

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* According to Peggy Gallagher, an adult who openly admits she’s a Beanie Baby expert, “Some people actually follow UPS trucks from the Ty company just to find out where the Beanies will be!”

* There are, honest to God, 13,125 Web sites that either mention, or are devoted exclusively to Beanie Babies, proving that only extremely valuable, scientific / medical type information can make its way onto the Internet.

The situation has gotten even worse since April 11, when McDonald’s starting including Teenie Beanie Babies in its Happy Meals. Demand has been so high the fast-food company has recommended that franchises institute a limit of 10 Happy Meal purchases per customer, and instruct their employees to refrain from asking such patrons, “Have you lost your mind?”

In many parts of the country, this Beanie frenzy is completely out of control. I know this because I have a copy of the BeanieMom Netletter News, a publication written by Vicky Krupka, who I understand has also taken it upon herself to keep the world apprised of other crucial developments, including current and anticipated trends in the knee-high nylon industry.

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Krupka reports that “one McDonald’s restaurant in Troy, Mich., had to be closed because of all the cars and people, while others required police to direct traffic.” An Illinois franchise owner, she added, “kept the Beanies locked up, taking them out in small amounts” when he wasn’t otherwise occupied trying desperately to sell the eatery and open a no-toy-giveaways-under-any-circumstances falafel establishment.

McDonald’s predicts that one in every three Americans will have a Teenie Beanie Baby at home by mid-May. Those who don’t can look forward to being called “the worstest parent. Ever.”

* Carrie St. Michel’s e-mail address is 74011.1235@compuserve.com.


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