The other day I wrote about the political process and how my children are seeing it play out at school. I got a great comment on that blog from my friend, Ken, who said he is troubled by the notion that children in grade school are becoming involved in the discussions in the first place. I see where he’s coming from, at least with regard to the bitterness, back biting, and general nastiness that seem to accompany politics-as-usual these days. Still, there is a part of me that feels that kids should have some knowledge of politics even if they’re incapable of understanding it in any reasonable depth. (Heck…I wish that same thing for most of the voting-eligible adults in this country.) My main interest in making sure my children are at least aware of the political process stems from a purely educational stance. I want them to learn early on that people disagree and see things differently, yet we still need to find some way to work and live together despite disparate views. Yes. I am highly idealistic. I know.
Today, though, instead of teaching my son a lesson about politics in this country, he taught me one.
“So, who are you going to vote for, Luke?” I queried, waiting for his annoyed response at my nonsensical question.
“I can’t vote, Mom,” he replied with exasperation. “I’m not a grown up.”
“Okay. You’re right. But, if you could vote, what would you be thinking?” I asked.
“Well,” he replied in all earnestness, “judging from the ads I’ve seen lately I don’t think either of them is a very good choice.”
“What political ads have you seen?” I asked. This is a legitimate question on my part because we watch very little television in this house, and our boys are subsequently shielded from the disproportionate number of ads via that type of media.
“The ones before the Lego videos I watch on You Tube,” he said.
Ah, yes. The You Tube videos. How could I forget?
“Oh. Well, what are the ads saying?”
“Obama’s weak on terrorists and Romney’s going to break his promises to seniors regarding health care.”
Holy hell. The words, as they spilled carelessly from his nine year old mouth, were not his. He was repeating ad copy word for word. It scared the bejeezus out of me.
“You do realize that you can’t believe everything you hear, right?”
“I know,” he said. Then he changed the subject and reminded me that he would like The Avengers movie on DVD as soon as possible.
The whole conversation gave me pause, though. Why are political ads appearing before Lego videos on You Tube? Who is the mastermind behind that genius plan? Let’s hope that the ads on You Tube videos appear randomly. If this pairing isn’t accidental, then it would seem our political parties are attempting to indoctrinate our children quite young. This would be eerily similar to Hitler’s youth approach, but hopefully without the appalling genocide result.
I swear my life keeps becoming more and more complicated. Now, instead of merely explaining to my boys about the Viagra ads they have inadvertently become the targets of, I also need to deflect obnoxious political commentary. I tell you. I don’t get paid enough for this parenting gig for the amount of work I put into it. I keep trying to stay one step ahead of the game, but I keep getting tripped up when I least expect it. Political advertising on Lego videos. Seriously? Lightbulb! Whoa. Hold the phone. Wait just one minute. I wonder…if I made my own ads about room cleaning and doing the dishes and placed them with the Lego videos, do you think I could start a revolution, a tidal wave of conscientious children creating clean houses? Maybe I could change the world with that approach? Or, at least maybe I could change my own world. Anyone want to go in with me on the advertising costs?