As a self-centered single and unchildrened twenty-something I usually like to roll my eyes at parenting blogs but this caught my eye — it was the glitter, of course.

What this does that’s genius:

1. Restructures the idea of discipline: usually when we are misbehaving it is because we are tired and confused. For this reason, timeouts were a good idea (and still are in the sports world), but in the imperfect and slow-moving world of parenting progress have been relegated into the ranks with other types of discipline (getting grounded, chores, spankings, yelling, punishment — even as a substitute for one of these, the either/or binary still creates a negative association… “picking your poison,” as it were). The Relax Bottle couches discipline positively, so the kid is actually aware that he/she is getting something, not getting something taken away (isn’t it confusing when people say things are good for you but all you can think is how much they suck?). Perceived fullness = lack of pain.

2. Combines the recognition-of-conflict process with the healing process: the problem with conflict, besides the fact that conflict is a problem itself, is that we are such fragile creatures and we always have to process our conflict — therapists, vacations, tons of booze, spiritual journeys, art for Godssake — heal from our wounds, spend time being still-weak and risking getting hurt again and all that. The Relax Bottle eliminates all that and in just five short shiny minutes restores us to a childlike state of fresh wonder (the ideal and forward-focused form of tabula rasa); thereby streamlining personal growth and change.

3. Capitalizes positively on the human tendency to distraction: The Relax Bottle puts kids in a blank space — a WTF moment, if you will; that necessary lapse in emotional gravity — where it’s easy to bait-and-switch them.  It’s like a family photographer with a squeaky toy or clown — “Hey kid, look here, look here!” — but instead of tricking them and taking something (a picture, but in the larger yet-unsaid marketing metaphor I mean time and energy and money), the kid gets to join his/her family in a greater awareness (as opposed to being duped or patronized), and is given a genuine better mood, and therefore put in long-lasting better standing (read: one free of ready-to-blow-at-anytime underlying repressed resentment) in the community he/she was previously disrupting. The shiny, pretty thing used here is a real promise to shinier, prettier things. This is beauty being used as beauty should be used: as a foreshadowing of more beauty, of truly better times to come.

All that said, the Relax Bottle might only work a couple times before kids start getting whiny about / possessive over it as well (“But Mommy I WANT MY TIMEOUT NOW!” etcetera). But that’s fine, because then some other genius parent/blogger/crafter can come up with the next brilliant idea… assuming he/she has spent a couple minutes with his/her respective Relax Bottle equivalent, as well.