Monday, September 17, 2012

Pardon Me While I Sharpen My Scissors

When Buttercup was five years old, she got a pair of princess pajamas for Christmas.  She was thrilled to bits to have a new nightgown, so she ran upstairs to put it on. 

A few minutes later, she came downstairs in some old PJ's, crying her eyes out.  She was sobbing so hard I couldn't understand a word of what she was trying to tell me.  Finally, several minutes later, I was able to get her calmed down enough to answer the question, "Why aren't you wearing your new pajamas?"

She hiccuped in reply:  "They were loose and not snug fitting and if I wear them I will catch fire!"

My poor, dear Buttercup was able to read fluently at age three, so when she saw the tag on her brand new princess nightgown that read

"For child's safety, garment should fit snugly.  This garment is not flame resistant.  Loose-fitting garment is more likely to catch fire."

she honestly thought that if she wore those pajamas, she was going to burst into flames in the middle of the night.

It took me a full five minutes to convince her that she would be completely safe.  We had to explain that clothes don't spontaneously combust.  We had to explain that in order for her nightgown to catch fire there had to actually be a fire.  No one in our house smokes.  Our fireplace doesn't work.  We won't be building a bonfire in December.  Finally, finally, she had enough reasons to believe us and put the new nightgown on.

Who?  Why?  What happened to make this stupid law get on the books? 

Are there two year olds getting out of bed to play with matches?

Are five year olds getting up to sneak a smoke while their parents snooze next door?

Are parents sneaking into their children's beds to smoke and then dropping ashes on them?

Are children actually spontaneously combusting?

It completely baffles me.

Yesterday I was flipping through the new issue of Parents magazine.  There was an article on fire safety giving the usual tips, including not leaving the kitchen when something is on the stove.  At the end of the article, it had a box titled, "The Lowdown on Kids' Pajamas".

Was I finally going to get the answer as to why?

Um, no.

Let's walk through the information they did give, shall we?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission requires pajamas size 9 months to 14 to meet federal flammability standards.  Huh?  Why nine months?  They are leaving those poor four month old babies completely vulnerable.

In the 1970's, many kinds of chemicals were banned from being used in kids' clothing.  The 1970's??  This has been a law that long?  Of course kids in the 60's and 70's needed flame retardant pajamas.  All of their parents were constantly smoking cigarettes, if not weed, and were in constant danger of being lit on fire. 

You'll know your child's sleepwear is tight-fitting enough if the label reads: "For child's safety, garment should fit snugly.  This garment is not flame resistant.  Loose fitting garment is more likely to catch fire."  First off, apparently the labels haven't changed in the last seven years.  Secondly, what???  You'll know your child's sleepwear is tight-fitting by reading a label?  How about,"You'll know your child's sleepwear is tight-fitting enough if he has a muffin-top overflowing the waistband"?  Or if he can't get a full breath into his lungs.  Or if you can tell that the child is an outy and not an inny.  And what about those scrawny kids?  The ones who are so stinkin' skinny that even tight-fitting garments are loose.  Are they just doomed?

And lastly, they close with this, "Loose-fitting clothing made of cotton or cotton blends should never be worn as sleepwear because it catches fire easily."  So many comments I hardly know where to start.  Perhaps with HOW ARE MY KIDS GOING TO CATCH FIRE????  I'm thinking that the chances of my kids catching fire are a whole lot greater in the daytime, when they are awake and actually playing with fire, in their cotton blend shirts, pants, socks, and shoes.

That's it.  No explanation.  No lowdown.  Just me, sitting here, wondering.  Wondering how many kids have to be scared out of wearing their favorite new pajamas before this "federal flammability standard" is revoked.  Burned, if you will.  If they aren't going to toss the law, at least get rid of the blasted tags.

I'm guessing, based on what I know of commissions, and federal commissions at that, that this will never go away.  In order for children to sleep safely, I'm going to have to wield my scissors and physically cut off every single stupid tag hanging off of every pair of loose-fitting pajamas being sold across this great nation. 

I have no doubt Buttercup will help me.

Will you grab your scissors?  Will you join us in ridding our world of stupid tags that are scaring our children? 

Vote for change!  With your vote, we can fix the economy and create new jobs!  We can fix our schools!

OK, I've seen too many political ads.  I've gone too far. 

Have a lovely day!


  1. I shall do my bit to aide you in your protest! I shall sleep naked from this point on! If they can't make sensible warning labels on pyjamas, then I shall spurn them!

    1. I knew you were my kind of people. Thanks for your support, but don't catch a cold on my account.

  2. I was just wondering about this the other day. I was looking at pajamas and wondering how tight was acceptable and where the fire was going to come from. My daughter has been sleeping in cotton T-shirts two sizes too big because it's hot and they are comfortable. We don't smoke or have random bursts of fire that might catch her clothes on fire while she is sleeping, in her crib, in her room. Seriously, are the warnings just there to make parents feel safer? I don't get the point.

    1. All of my boys wear plain old undershirts to bed, too. Apparently you and I are putting our kids in grave danger. I won't tell if you don't!

  3. Glad I am not the only parent who has to cut off those warning labels for my kids!
    If your scissors need sharpening, I'll send you a pair of mine.

  4. OMG. THANK GOD I was never aware of this law when I was a child in the 70s, because like BUttercup, I would have believe I was not to wear loose clothig either. I will never forget the time there was static electricity from my nightgown and the flannel sheets and I actually though there was fire brewing in my bed. I know I was around 3 years old too. And I remember wanting throw out that nightgown becuase I was sure it was going to burst into flames- because I'd seen the spark!!! It was only a matter of time!

    1. I remember the first time I saw the static "flames". I thought it was awesome, though. Tried to figure out how to get them to do it again even. I am glad you managed to be spared from the trauma of fire safety tags.


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