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Keeping Up With The Jones Kids


By canceling cable television and relying on Netflix via the Wii for children’s programming, I thought that would get my kids away from the marketing influence of flashy TV ads for crappy toys. It was getting to the point that for every commercial that appeared, even if it was for Chevy trucks during a primetime network show I was watching, my oldest daughter would say, “DAD! I WANT THAT! CAN YOU GET ME A 1-TON PICKUP SO I CAN PULL MY SPEEDBOAT AND HAUL BOULDERS AT THE SAME TIME?”

Sweetie, we drive Hondas in this family, not Chevys. The answer is NO.


The real reason I ditched cable was the insanity of paying over $100 just to watch 5 channels – three of which were for the kids. The lack of ad influence on those young minds was an awesome side effect. I no longer felt the pressure to spend money on a bunch of shit they’d end up breaking in a week’s time. TV ads were one thing. Friends were another.

Rubber bands made fashionable. And I didn't think of it.

School started a few weeks ago, and my 6-year-old daughter comes home asking me to buy her Silly Bandz. Never heard of them. “They’re really cool!” she said. “You can buy them at the checkout at the grocery store! Can we go get some?” Her friends at school, she told me, had them and trade them with each other. I didn’t want her to be the only Silly Bandless girl in school, so I promised that the next time I went shopping, I’d pick some up. However, my mother beat me to it because, apparently, Gran’s arm was easier to twist than Dad’s. Of course. And when I saw these things, I was astounded by their simpilicity: colored rubber bands cut into a variety of shapes-a heart, a crown, a car, a magic wand, a margarita glass. Simple and cheap. Cool with me.

Then, last week, I noticed the kids across the street were riding down the sidewalk on new Razor scooters. That looks fun, I thought to myself. But then: Shit. The girls are going to want scooters if they see the neighbor kids with them. For a week I kept my daughters busy by taking them to the park, the library, anything to avoid playing outside, and most likely, with the neighbor kids. The rain helped out a couple days, too. I feel the slightest bit guilty about this maneuvering. But not too much.

What 3-year-old girls lose sleep over.

Over the weekend, it happened. The kids played together, and the neighbors brought out their scooters and began zipping around, even let my girls try them out. My 3-year-old had to be reprimanded for not giving up the pink scooter when her turn was over. When it was time to go back inside, both daughters asked if I would go buy them scooters. Miss Soon-To-Be-Four said she wanted one for her birthday. Fair enough, but not according to her older sister who wanted want, too. Whining ensued. I mentioned Santa’s expertise in making scooters and suggested they wait until Christmas. That worked. For a while.

That night, the 3-year-old woke up calling for me. When I asked what was wrong, she said, “Dad, I totally want a screwdriver.”

A what?

“A screwdriver!”

A screwdriver? Honey, are you OK? What needs fixing?

“A screwdriver like my friends.”

Oh! A scooter?

“Yeah, a scooter. Can I have one for Christmas? Can I tell Santa tomorrow?”

Sure, you can text him at the North Pole tomorrow, OK? Go to sleep.

If there had been both vodka and orange juice in the house, I would have gone to the kitchen right then for my own screwdriver. The pressure of trying to please your kids because of what the neighbor kids have can be a little stressful. I rue the day that 7-year-old boy across the street comes home in his very own Escalade.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 2010/09/21 7:17 am

    Which is the best scooter available now, has anyone tried the new Razor scooter?

  2. 2010/10/05 3:08 pm

    Hate to tell you, but that day you rue may not be so far off: Power Wheels Fisher-Price Cadillac Hybrid Escalade EXT:

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