Maybe Means Probably Not
We used to have a digital video recorder—sort of a Tivo-like thing—before we canceled it to save money. Now, though, I’m finding how much my thriftiness is costing me.
When we could fast-forward through commercials, my kids never saw them. OK, except for the one for Moon Sand during the Christmas season a few years ago. Even at fast-forward speeds, they saw it, wanted it, and would not stop talking about it until Santa brought some. Shortly after that, I learned that Moon Sand clogs vacuums and I sent it back to the moon where it belongs.
So Adam and I don’t let the kids watch much TV. But what little they watch has radically transformed these last few weeks of summer. For starters, there’s that “Punch Dub” commercial.
I haven’t seen it myself, but it apparently encourages kids to sock each other every time they see a Volkswagen. Thanks a lot, VW. Your name says you’re the car of the people. In my mind, you’re becoming the car of the backseat fight.
And while my kids don’t usually hit each other (on purpose, anyway), they have VERY LOUD DISCUSSIONS over what is and is not a Volkswagen. After listening to the extended dance version of the debate this morning during the hour-long drive to summer camp, I can tell one thing for sure. We’re not getting a VW anytime soon.
Likewise, my plans to get new school shoes at the outlet mall are looking increasingly unlikely. Lucy and Alice have learned about a brand of shoe that promises swifter running through slingshot technology.
It’s really hard for me to say no to this.
When I was Lucy’s age, I really wanted a pair of Zips shoes. I even made the Z in the dirt of the soccer field, practicing for when I’d get my pair. And as we rode down the escalator on the way from the shoe store, my mom told me the story of my uncle, when he was 7, demonstrating the extreme speed of his P.F. Flyers.
Kids care about this sort of thing a lot. And if it gets mine more excited about going back to school in a few weeks, well, it’s worth it. And I figure the money we’re not spending on the DVR will make up for the more expensive shoes (which are on sale for buy one and get one half off—yes!).
Still, it’s super-aggravating that parents have to pay the price for the commercials our kids see on TV.
My kids aren’t unusual here. Most kids believe what they see on TV. They want what they see. They want to do what they see the kids in TV commercials doing. This makes it all the more frustrating that children’s programming is so stuffed full of advertising—even stuff on PBS.
Some days, especially ones where I sit in the traffic and have to listen to my kids argue about the make of the cars we pass on the road, I feel like Steven Slater, that flight attendant who went berserk and left the plane via the inflatable emergency slide.
Only there isn’t an inflatable emergency slide on my car, and I wouldn’t ditch my job—my kids—even if there were. But maybe I should rethink being responsible. Steven Slater just got offered a reality show, presumably one with a big paycheck attached.
Think of how many back-to-school shoes I could buy with that kind of money.
On second thought, don’t.
Because I can imagine what sort of commercials would air in a Reality TV show about a middle-aged mom who adores her kids but not necessarily every long car ride with them.
These would be the commercials straight from the TV of my childhood and now appropriate for my age: Cross-your-heart bras that “lift and separate.” Geritol. Chewing gum that won’t stick to your dentures. And I don’t want to be responsible for making anyone’s kids want that.
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