Here’s a challenge:
Try and buy diapers without Winnie the Pooh or Elmo or Nemo on the waist band – you can’t.
My wife and I are trying to make an effort at raising character kids without characters dominating our lives, but it’s hard.
We’re trying to buy new shoes for my son. All of them have Spider-Man, Diego, Cars, etc on them.
We’re trying to buy a new bike helmet for my son. Wouldn’t you know it, the same cast of characters are showing up.
From the minute our children are hours old, the message of characterization starts to weave into their lives.
So how do you fight it? Or do you even try?
I will concede that my boys do have some favorite characters, but the enjoyment of them is limited to the screen, a few toys, and books. We don’t have the sheets, the hats, the shirts, the shoes, the bike, etc etc etc.
We went to see Thomas the Tank Engine make an appearance at our local train park last weekend. Everywhere you turned there were kids with Thomas-blazened hats, backpacks, and tshirts crawling all over the grounds that sunny day. We bucked up for the Awkward Family Photo at the top (had to with Charlie crying like that), but that was it.
Yes, we watched Puss in Boots 3x last week, and my son’s 4th birthday party was a Buzz Lightyear theme, but that’s not the norm for us.
While we do have a few Thomas figures, our boys mostly play with the Ikea knockoff track and trains. While there is one or two Lightning McQueen models in their car box, most of them are just yellow, blue and black cars. They have a few Transformers they play with but their toys are just .. toys.
I’m not so naive as to think my kids will grow up in a bubble devoid of corporate influence, but I would appreciate some choice when it comes to having gear for my kids. Why is it so hard to get a plain, red bike helmet?
I’ve heard stories of mall appearances by the likes of Dora where parents offered mall security hundreds of dollars to skip the line and give their children access. Working at a radio station I received calls from frantic parents when Justin Bieber was on tour saying they needed to get their 5 year old tickets to the show.
A 5 year old doesn’t really need tickets to anything. It’s the parent that thinks they really need the biggest, best, shiniest labels to help their kids fit in or be happy. (Check out Mommyfriend’s list of 6 Free Things Kids Need Most)
Guess what? The kids don’t care – or at least mine don’t.
Do your kids demand the ‘brand name’ character stuff when it comes to getting pyjamas, sheets, books, helmets, shoes, lounge chairs, blankets, beach towels, and t-shirts? Do you buck up for it?
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Image Credit Adam Sundana