Saturday, December 5, 2009

Party Poopers

After spending a few hours at the mall trying not to murder the other shoppers and attempting to find some unique gifts for the kids, I came across the perfect stocking stuffer for Zoe; a handheld fart machine. Like most kids, the girl is obsessed with fart and poop jokes. Some girls have dreams about unicorns and rainbows, but she had a dream about "having a bunch of poop on my head, and grandma came over and said 'Hi, Zoe! Why do you have so much poop on your head?' and she just rubbed it all in."

A few months ago we were at a piano recital for the boys. A room containing parents, grandparents, and a couple dozen kids all dressed up and nervously fidgeting in their seats while they wait to perform is kind of a tense environment. During a moment of complete silence between two songs, the girl directly in front of me shifted to her right and let one rip. I'm not talking about a little lady-like toot; it was a full-blown, reverberate off of the hard plastic chair, Taco Bell-fueled fart. I braced myself for the eruption of laughter, but instead everyone in the room just stared intently at their programs and pretended not to hear it. Everyone, of course, except for Zoe. She laughed. And laughed some more. Which made me laugh, but instead of just laughing normally I tried to laugh like a mime, which makes my whole body shake and makes the laughing last ten times longer, which makes her laugh more. Ahh...nothing funnier than a good fart.

I recently heard about a duo of women in Orange County starting a group called The Mothers Against Nickelodeon (or, The M.A.N.). These women are on a mission to boycott Nickelodeon until the network "agrees to eliminate the use of farts, boogers, belching, rehab," and pretty much everything else that's fun, from their programming. They are convinced that Nick Jr. shows are turning kids into "brainwashed consumers," and that the marketing strategies used by Nickelodeon are "harmful and dishonest." So, in order to protect their children from the hands of consumer media, they want to stop Nick. These are women that do not appreciate a good fart joke, and most likely do not own a self-inflating whoopee cushion.

At some point in the last dozen years, all three of my kids have watched Nick Jr. Now that they are older, we have been fortunate enough to move on to better shows that include even more fart/poop/belch jokes with a little violence mixed in. Despite the fact that they were subjected to the voices of the "Wonder Pets" and the questionable wardrobe choices of "The Backyardigans" at an early age, they don't own any merchandise emblazoned with any characters and don't spend all their free time figuring out what licensed products they should be suckered into buying. We walked right through "Nickelodeon Universe" yesterday and no one asked for a Spongebob T-shirt, a Dora Xmas stocking, a Diego shot glass or even the stuffed Plankton, which I actually thought was pretty cool.

Should I blame television and Nick Jr. for Zoe's love of fart jokes? No. She likes them because farts are funny and she's normal. Watch any Judd Apatow movie and you'll realize that not only does fart humor never go away, it gets funnier. If you don't like a certain show or network, don't watch it. Unless, of course, someone happens to be standing in your family room with a gun to your head saying, "You must watch Diego save the humpback whale or I'll shoot you in the face." In that case, you should probably watch the show.

Kids, like everyone else, are consumers and they will eventually ask for stuff, a lot of stuff, whether they watch TV or not. If you don't want to buy the purse that has a picture of Dora on it, pick the purse that has a picture of Tinkerbell instead. Or if your daughter is like mine and doesn't want a purse...a handheld fart machine.

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