Pondering the Time Out Pad
Sunday, March 1st, 2009
Are you familiar with the Time Out Pad? The electronic mat that turns the Naughty Step concept into a stern multimedia experience? In some circles, it’s old news, but I nevertheless find it fascinating.
A quick briefing for the uninitiated: When your kid acts up, you set her on the Pad, and set it to two minutes (or whatever). If all goes well, your small criminal will bide her time patiently, and be rewarded with a little tune on her release. If she gets itchy and tries to make a break for it—à la Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman in the 1973 jailbird film Papillon—a loud, shaming alarm sounds.
Parents who’ve purchased the Pad extol its effectiveness: “It’s terrific! We used to have to keep an eagle eye on Julep throughout her entire Time Out, but with the Pad, we practically forget she’s there!”). Something about this doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe because, with all the timing and the dinging, it makes the kid seem like a microwaveable pizza.
And, obviously, no perfect baby would agree to sit on a ticking pad for minutes on end, just because she’d mouthed off a bit. She’d eventually figure out that she could simply drag a large marble Victorian paperweight towards her through the powers of telekinesis, substitute its weight for her body on the pad, and run merrily away.
I mean, wouldn’t she?