Anyone who has ever taken offspring to a store understands the inherent risks of lining up in the checkout line with children in tow. There are two categories one’s offspring can fall into…those who can read… (even if only a little bit) and those who cannot.
Those who cannot read yet…
For years I have told my friends not to feel too badly when they discover their preschooler has what is left of a half-gnawed, gummy, chocolate bar or chewed up gum stuffed in their mouth while still in the wrapper. Now the retail establishment may expect you to recompense them for the now soggy, candy wrapper/ gum package but in reality the store needs to take full ownership for having the nerve to market this treat (candy, chocolate and gum or whatever) on racks lower than your knee cap. (!!) This is purposely designed to ensure that your toddler behaves just as described above and that in the end you part with your hard-earned coin to save the day (and face). The only glitch is that you are now expected to pay for something your toddler can’t eat (with all the paper glued in a mess) and certainly would not be something you would want to entertain consuming yourself.
The store wholly owns the responsibility for marketing products to family audiences. Many a mom has slithered out to their car because a little one reacted to marketing purposely directed at eye-level to toddlers. I don’t know about you but for me (at all of 5 foot, 11 inches tall), I am hardly going to notice anything around my kneecap far less stoop to investigate the item further totally frustrating the marketing strategy to create a last-minute “add-on” sale at the cashier.
Then there are those who can read…
Much the same way goes the magazine rack for the tween population. I am lined up to buy groceries (again) and the 10 and 12-year-old are thumbing through the magazines on display at the checkout. Then the questions start. Albeit very amusing for the other people in line as I get to hear “Why is Angelina marrying that guy Brad AFTER having 6 kids?” (Where would I start?) “Honey (I explain) it is best to get married before God sends children… that way there is a mom and dad for the babies when they come.” (??) Answer back… “You mean Brad isn’t their dad?” (No…who knew?) “Well, I think he is the dad for some (!!)”…imagine having to explain this mess to a child! Meanwhile “Brad” is being talked about as though my 12-year-old knows him personally. Then the 10-year-old spots a photo of the “Brangelina” family all together and exclaims “of course he is not the Dad…some of those children are from different countries!” Meanwhile smirks are evident in the lineup behind me. Not too bad I can handle this.
Retailers in the past have made conscientious efforts to make inappropriate magazines not blatantly evident in family friendly stores. But recently (the last few years) the headlines in mainstream media are more outrageously objectionable and these publications are displayed in full kid-view right along with the chocolate, gum and cough drops as you check out. (The only area where these magazines could possibly get more face time with my kids would be the cereal aisle…as we all know!)
Some headlines are weird, others perverted and others are “TMI” (too much information). Some of these tabloids rely on outrageous headlines to make these scandal rags stand out in a crowd. Problem is trying to explain these ploys to the kids. The following are some of the most strange (although in no way near all) I have run into (and subsequently had to explain…when I could) in recent months;
- Africa: Glamour. Decadence. Murder. Hundreds of Secretarial Opportunities.
- Girl Scalped by Berserk Tortilla-Making Machine
- Elvis Is Dead, Alive, Dead, Alive and Alive Again.
- Nudist Welfare Man’s Model Wife Fell For Chinese Hypnotist From the Co-op Bacon Factory
- Hubby Sues Ex-Wife: Give Me Back My Kidney Now!
- Woman takes life while chatting on Facebook, no one calls police
- Divorced Couple In Court Battle For Custody of Pet Cockroach
- Fountain of Youth Found In NYC Subway Toilet
- Octomom poses nude for rent money
In grocery store lineups my children have learned more about life than school and Internet combined. The kids know what actresses look like without makeup (and with), who in Hollywood had what tummy tuck and who Prince William was going to marry (before even he knew) and I haven’t been in line long enough to put the groceries on the conveyor belt. There is no explanation plausible for the tabloid head line “Male lizard man gives birth to two-headed tiger baby while alien assists!” This rendered me speechless.
The usual attention by the wanna-be-teens to Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and what latest YouTube made it to the Ellen DeGeneres Show (mostly cute kids from what I understand) I can handle and mitigate what I need to within the context of how I am trying to raise this brood.
While I lie awake at night and ponder my responsibility in answering my Maker for my children’s somewhat unbridled access to Internet under my roof, a clearer and more present danger lurks in the local grocery store.
“Mom why did Khloé Kardashian quit PETA after flour bombing Kim Kardashian …aren’t they sisters just like us…mom? And what is PETA?” Between working fulltime and my intense relationship with my washing machine (only to be interrupted to buy more groceries) I have no clue who these Kardashian people are in the headlines. They sound like some rebel army off the “Starship Enterprise.” With a very exasperated look, the 12-year-old tries to explain who these people are as I confess my complete ignorance…my honesty results in being told by the 12-year-old I am “so lame.” Again to the great delight of the onlookers lined up behind me!
Then some nice mainstream magazine this week is featuring plastic surgery. Great! Oh did the kids have a field day with that!
“Mom what kind of plastic gets used in that surgery?”-Take time out to educate these gals while the cashier has a field day ringing in the wrong price with your 50% off (stale bakery) items. After several rounds both young ladies understand “plastic” generally means “cosmetic” and has NOTHING to do with smelling like a Barbie doll after the procedure. There that was not too bad. I now have the first cart almost packed still have another cart to go (rather restrained spending this week for a family of 11). “Mom does plastic surgery cost real money?”(Course this question being posed in Canada where there is a healthcare insurance to cover most medical necessities) “Yes dear… a lot of money.” Back to the ten-year-old… “Is that why you have never had any?” Nice…up until now I was totally unaware I required any plastic surgery! I ask this kid (making mental note to not purchase on this trip the “treat” she asked for)… “On what part of my body do you think I need plastic surgery?” (I am ready to totally disown this child if she answers back in the affirmative.) This kid answers “oh, I thought those lines under your eyes and your neck could be smoothed out… that’s all!” Now everyone in line is killing themselves laughing…that is everyone… but me. This old goat is all too aware that an iron (with starch) would be necessary to “smooth out” my birthday suit.
The other child is now fingering through another publication stand only to call out to me (about ten feet away) “how do you pronounce C-E-L-L-U-L-I-T-E? And is that what you said our Aunt has on her legs when she took us swimming that time?”… “NO.!”.. (I do NOT remember saying that) I now no longer care if we ever eat. One and a half carts of groceries it is…I can’t stand this anymore I’m headed back to the car.
Now every single person within earshot of our family is laughing uncontrollably… as I slither out before anyone else can comment on the benefits of plastic surgery.
If I truly want to protect my children from a “glamorized” view of the depraved, the immoral, the doped, the intoxicated, the soon-to-be incarcerated and the unimaginable…I just need to keep them out of any long lineups at most grocery and convenience stores. Internet cannot hope to compete second for second with the wide range of depravity a well-stocked magazine rack at the local grocery store can offer your under-aged family members.
The Garden Goat