It is sickeningly sad that the world’s nanny-states have gone on a crusade to ban advertising to children.
Frankly, I can’t remember seeing an ad aimed at kids that even vaguely offended my sensitivity as a protective parent. I reckon 99.99% of ads are nice and warm and fuzzy and harmless to a child’s psyche.
Children are not stupid when it comes to advertising. So, why pick on them and not adults who have a long, illustrious record of being singularly stupid in their response to advertising?
The problem is that governments have cottoned on to the fact that banning ads aimed at kids is really good for pulling in the votes. And parents love politicians who want to bring in all sorts of laws to protect children because modern parents really just want government to bring their kids up for them while they go shopping, clubbing and playing golf and tennis.
And what’s more, its apparently politically correct these days not to bullshit children.
Which is a shame because every good, non-shopping, non-clubbing parent gets a real kick out of bullshitting children and the kids themselves just love being bullshat. Especially about things like tooth fairies and Father Christmas.
In my book, both bullshitter and bullshitee benefit.
It was Easter Sunday about 30 years ago when my eldest son was 12 years old and a know-all of note.
We had just returned from church and sent the kids into the kitchen while I supposedly went on a recce to see if I could spot the Easter bunny. Meantime all I was doing was maintaining that devious tradition of planting Easter eggs in every nook and cranny I could find in the garden.
After which I would rush into the kitchen yelling, “Quickly, come and see the Easter bunny!” And then look terribly disappointed as the kids flew out of the door and say, “Oh shame, what a pity, you just missed him.”
My eldest sidled up to me and told me I was not fooling him one bit. There was, he said, no such thing as an Easter bunny and if I did not stop treating him like a child he would expose my scam by telling his younger brother and sister that not only was the Easter bunny a figment of my romantic imagination but that Father Christmas didn’t exist either.
Before I knew what I was doing I was bending down and looking him in his pre-pubescent eye. Through clenched teeth I told him that he would be find himself devoid of Easter eggs, pocket money and any form of paternal recognition for 10 years on the trot if he said one single word to his brother and sister.
But, instead of just leaving it at that, I went into bullshit overdrive.
” Just you watch, you snotty little doubting Thomas,” I said. “I will prove beyond any measure of doubt that the Easter bunny not only exists but has the capacity to deliver billions of Easter eggs to billions of children all at the same time.”
Somewhat shaken and wide-eyed at my unbecoming Easter behaviour, he slouched away.
I planted the Easter eggs, then rushed into the kitchen yelling hysterically about seeing the Easter bunny and shooed the kids out into the garden with my eldest, still in full slouch mode, bringing up the rear.
As he set foot into the garden and a split second before I came up with the usual, “Oh shame, you’ve just missed him” line, my daughter, wide eyed and speechless for the first time ever in her little life, pointed at the hedge as the biggest white rabbit I have ever seen hopped through a hole, went bounce, bounce, bounce across our garden and disappeared into the next door garden.
There was the mother of all pregnant pauses. My children looked at me and asked why I was pointing heavenward instead of toward the point where the rabbit disappeared.
“I am not pointing at the sky,” I said. “God is holding my hand.”
Not giving them a chance to ask what that meant, I turned to my son and with as much gusto as I could muster said, “Don’t ever tell me again that you don’t believe in the Easter bunny.”
He is 45 years old now and not a Christmas nor Easter goes by that he doesn’t phone to reaffirm, with all the sincerity he can muster, his belief that the Easter bunny is alive and well and that Father Christmas can come down a chimney even if a house hasn’t got one.
I found out later was that my neighbour had bought the rabbit at the pet store to give to his nephew for Easter and while he was trying to get it out of its cage and into a gift basket it escaped and headed for the hedge between our gardens. At precisely and exactly the right moment.
I haven’t told my kids of course. That’s the brilliant part of bullshitting.
Follow Chris Moerdyk on Twitter @chrismoerdyk
IMAGE: Pavel Ševela / Wikimedia Commons.