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Published January 12 2010

Parenting Perspectives: Enough already with the impossible packaging

It’s a new year, time for bygones to be securely fastened to Father Time’s backside cloak as he hobbles away into yesteryear.

Unfortunately, while taping resolutions onto the fridge recently, I realized I’ve yet to resolve one of last year’s goals: tracking down the mastermind behind today’s brilliant packaging. You know, the kind which has led to unprecedented cases of parental “wrap rage.”

I realize much of this packaging prowess arose from practical concerns, such as the need to design theft-resistant and mail-safe packaging, but with parental heart palpitations and needless kid tantrums on the rise as a result each holiday season, perhaps it’s time to confront the foe.

The online resource Wikipedia defines wrap rage as “the common name for heightened levels of anger and frustration resulting from the inability to open hard-to-remove packaging.”

If reading that brought on flashbacks of peaceful family gatherings turned nightmarish with the frantic unwinding of twisty thingamabobs – the eventual opening of which was followed by a newly visible crop of rectangle thingamajigs and industrial-strength tape requiring extraction by chainsaw – you may need to see a doctor.

Don’t be surprised if you’re diagnosed with PPTIPS, or Parental Post-Traumatic Impossible Packaging Syndrome.

I can almost feel the collective rise in blood pressures. Whose wouldn’t rise sharply after witnessing sugar-plum visions of dear ones rotting as quickly as one’s patience upon haggling for an hour with said packaging?

A friend recently turned to Facebook for commiseration, updating her status: “I just lost 45 minutes of my life trying to free the Littlest Pet Shop Adoption Center!” She noted that, in all, two hours of precious family time was forever lost due to mind-numbing skirmishes with impossible-to-access toys.

A fellow parent responded that her tiny tot had received a John Deere tractor for Christmas, only to watch in horror as three adult members of his extended family worked tirelessly to free the coveted toy from the “insanely tight and thick twisty ties.”

Impossibly-Wrapped Packaging Mastermind, can you possibly sleep well knowing our children have reverted to waking up in the middle of the night, haunted from having watched us parents resort to using meat cleavers and ice picks to untangle toys from their plastic prisons?

I have just enough post-holiday energy left to make a proposition for the coming year to the Packaging Mastermind: This Christmas, our family would like to have you as an honored guest in our home. We’ll feed and treat you kindly. No hard feelings, really.

Naturally, you’ll be obliged to stay for the gift-opening. We’ll make sure the kids are ready as always, expectant hearts aflutter, faces aglow in anticipation.

Or, perhaps you’d prefer we place all our orders through the companies which, as a result of the nationwide wrap-rage affliction, have now promised “frustration-free packaging.”

If you choose Option A, that’s fine. Just bring your toolbox and an extra box of tissues for the kids.


Roxane B. Salonen works as a freelance writer and children’s author in Fargo, where she and her husband, Troy, are the parents of five children. She also has a blog at www.areavoices.com/peacegarden