Saturday, November 23, 2013

Holiday Ads

I dread nights, and weekends when there isn't any kids programming on PBS. Why? Because if my kids are loitering around, then I feel obligated to turn on Nickelodeon, or Disney, or some such other child-directed advertising machine. My kids don't watch that much tv anyway, but some days it's too cold, or hot to play outside, and I'm busy with other stuff. The tv is not my nanny, but my ummm...distracted teenage babysitter who shows up every once in a while, sits on the couch and fiddles with her iphone.

My punishment for trying to engage my kids in a nice, quiet tv trance is the toy ads. For every five minutes of Spongebob, there is 18 minutes of ads for the new Ninja Turle submarine, the talking Captain America shield, the lego pirate set that costs more than my monthly mortgage. With that kind of pricetag the lego ship should come with tiny living leggo men who build the set for you, then vigilantly guard your property from insects, and rodentswith their tiny swords. They should even offer mom, and dad tiny barrels of rum.

My children are not immune to the LCD lit world of wonder of toy ads. I am called to rewind the DVR every commercial break, so that the kids can point out the the game with the dog who poops out multicolored playdough. "Can't you just feed the dogs playdough, then go wait in the yard. It's fun, and economical!"
The response is stare,stare, blink, blink.
I frequently try to talk them out of stuff, but I know that within a few days the toy that I called "hideous, ridiculous, and overpriced" will be hidden in my closet. I said it, not Santa.

This brings me to a point (maybe). I'm pained for the parents who are excluded from the inescapable gloss, and glow of commercial Christmas. I'm certain that think everyone else can afford this shit for their kids, so why can't I? Just further alienate low income people, toy companies. Make them feel worse. My kids probably think that most kids own every single Chineses manufactured hunk of bright plastic, but they don't. I, however, know the truth. I know that they have a darn good collection of colored plastic garbage. They're actually on the spoiled side... as are most middle class, American kids. I'm fortunate enough to find thirty bucks here, and there that doesn't have to pay for bills, or food. I hurt for those who can't do that.
I don't know what to say to parents who struggle in general, but especially feel like outcasts from American society come Christmas-time. "Turn the tv off" might be a good start for everyone, but I don't give advice that I wouldn't take. I like tv..don't judge. Do what you can for your kids. Volunteer to chaperone field trips, and help at class parties. Have them help you to make cookies. Just give them your time. Be happy. Don't let them feel your adult stress until they are adults. I think, maybe, that they will see in time that those memories, and the time that you give them will make them forget that you couldn't buy the Hulk-smash power wheels.