Thursday, August 16, 2007

On commericalism, kids and 4 year olds with headaches

The other day my 4 year old son came up to me, the back of his hand placed against his forehead, and sighed heavily.

HE: My forehead hurts.

In spite of the melodramatic acting, I took an interest.
ME: Really? Did you bump your head?
HE: No, not today.
That he emphasized that he didn't bump it today gave me a hint this was perhaps not a real ailment. But I checked his head anyway.
ME: Well it looks fine to me.
HE: Do we have any HeadOn? You apply it directly to the forehead. That's what I need!
Knowing my instincts were proven correct, I sent him on his way. But the incident reminded me about an e-mail I received from the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood (CCFC), who was all aghast that a study revealed that kids preferred damn-near anything wrapped in a McDonald's wrapper.

The first thought to cross my mind upon reading it was: Someone actually paid for a study to prove this?

Maybe I am the odd-man here (and believe me: it wouldn't be the first time - or last), but so-called studies of this kind are no surprise. What parent hasn't tried to mask the taste of mashed-peas for a toddler by making airplane sounds as the spoon winds its way to the child's mouth? Who hasn't mixed fruit juice with liquid medicine so a kid will drink it? Didn't Mary Poppins opine that A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down ?

Of course marketing works! The very fact you or I buy product A or B is based largely on marketing efforts. So what?

The point I am making here, which was so badly missed by the CCFC, is that kids don't buy their own food, at least not the majority of the time. Just because I grew up with the kid-centric desire to go to McDonald's (back in the day when Mayor McCheese was in office, and Grimace had 4 arms) doesn't mean my parents let me go whenever I damn well pleased.

As an aside, it should be noted that my father used to argue with me at the dinner table that I would eat my fish meal if it was in a McDonald's wrapper. In spite of my promises to him that I would never eat a Filet-o-Fish sandwich, he refused to accept that I did not like seafood - something which has not changed to this day.

So when these advocacy groups attack businesses that cater to children, ask yourself this: where are the parents? Why do these kids seemingly get to buy whatever the hell they want, when they want, and as much as they want? When I read that kids are being treated for obesity because they eat at McD's too much, I ask why the parents didn't feed them better.

And don't tell me the kids whine, or complain about peer pressure. If you can't rein your kids in over issues like McNuggets or Head-On, how in the world are you going to handle a really tough issue??



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