Soak Up Life… Are They Serious?

images.jpg I saw this commercial for I don’t know what (how sticky was that?) a few weeks back in which a kid is shaking a bottle of soda that abruptly explodes in the whole kitchen flooor, and the mother, who supposedly reprimands the kid, actually joins him in making a bigger mess. Oh… I remember the tag line was “Soak Up Life”. Paper towel perhaps?

I’ve seen many commercials like this one before and I have always thought the same thing: how can the mothers allow their kids to mess up the house like that, and on top of that, join them? Don’t they know how to parent and teach the kids not to dirty the house? (They’re certainly not teaching them anything if they join them.) Are they really such submissive maids? Well, I ponder a lot, especially on such cultural differences like that.

Two things that I don’t see often in Latin America are kids messing up the house like that as if it’s ok (because it really isn’t), and mothers who act like maids.

Call me extremist, I won’t tolerate kids messing up the house like that for me to clean up later! And I do feel sorry for the mothers who let themselves be like that…

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4 responses to “Soak Up Life… Are They Serious?

  1. I had a friend who use to sell a product that placed him in homes talking directly to parents.

    He told me that if he saw a parent correct a child and say “no” followed by the child continuing to do as the child pleased, he knew he had the sale.

    I asked him “how?”

    He said, “If the child won’t take no for an answer, I know I won’t have to either.”

    Made sense to me.

    Good post; thanks for adding to the conversation.

    Keep creating…Mike

  2. Laurence-Hélène

    This reminds me of an ad we have over here.
    A kid in a uspermarket having a tantrum because his mum doesn’t want to but him crisps or something like that. The mum starts rolling around the floor and pretends to have a tantrum. Seriously, what kind of example are we setting to children? I can’t even remember what they are trying to advertise!

  3. Well, if one remembers the behavior in the ad that you dislike, but not the product, what does that say about the advertiser? (not doing his job, in my book)

    “Two things that I don’t see often in Latin America are kids messing up the house like that as if it’s ok (because it really isn’t), and mothers who act like maids.”

    Katia, amiga minha, please forgive me for saying so, but maybe the latter has something to do with the fact that many middle and upper class households in Latin America — even lower middle class — until recently had maids, often live-in maids, to do the cleaning up after the kids. I have been in LAC households — including some in Brazil — where kids made a mess. It might not have happened as frequently as it seems to in some US households these days (it was not well tolerated in my Midwest household growing up in 1960s-70s!), and the kids may get a real scolding, but the mess was left to the maid to take care of. I wonder how often the kids don’t dare make a mess while mom is around the apt. or house, but don’t worry about it when mom is out but the maid is there to take care of it…

    This is changing now, as maids in LAC are no longer so cheap to have (labor laws have changed that), and the middle class in so many parts of LAC are seeing their budgets squeezed.

    Staying on point for a second longer, the “maid will take care of it” attitude can have broader perverse social impacts. For example, I have too often been told by Latin Americans that they litter so much because there’s always someone else around to clean up after them — a maid, or (low-paid) janitor or groundskeeper — even in elementary schools (because such labor tends to be cheap to have in much of LAC), so the average LAC kid grows up not worrying about littering. The theory goes, if you get accustomed to not having to see the consequences of your negative action (tossing litter), and no one scolds you because there’s always someone else to take care of it, then you won’t change the offending habit.

    There may be something to that. In all too many LAC cities, if litter is a big problem, who do residents complain about and attack? Not themselves or the neighbors littering, but rather the city government, for not doing a better job of cleaning up!

    All that said, I do think Americans have over the last couple of decades, for reasons I cannot quite understand, decided that it is bad to define for our kids what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. I’m not advocating becoming uptight about everything, but my wife and I have always tried to (1) tell our kids how they should handle themselves; (2) tell them that while we all make messes and mistakes, have accidents or even get bad grades in school at some time or another, and we as parent don’t love our children less for it, they should learn from those mishaps, think about how to avoid them in the future and improve; (3) actions have consequences — for example, in the situation in the ad that you cite, we would make them clean it up themselves (something they usually don’t want to repeat!), and tell them if they want to shake the soda bottle in the future, take it outside in the yard…

  4. I know I’m a bit late, but I felt the need to put in my two cents..

    The first time I saw that commercial I was completely appalled and it actually made me angry. Now I guess the idea behind an advert is to provoke some type of emotion, the ideal one being a pleasant, happy emotion, however I was really upset that they were going to market their product in such a way. “Oh yes, not only are you wasting this, but you are infact making a mess all over my kitchen…but no, I will not reprimand you, infact I’m going to join you and then I will clean it up all on my own”. It’s completely ridiculous and most certainly sends out the wrong message to everyone.

    I guess it says a lot about American Culture and what we accept. I used to work in a fairly wealthy school district and it’s very interesting (and occasionally upsetting) how parents interact with their children, and how they bring those impressions to school to interact with their peers and the faculty.

    @ Laurence-Hélène – I actually lived in Ireland for four months, and saw the commercial when my house-mate pointed it out to me. She had the same reaction that I did to the commercial airing here. It upset her and she said as a child there was no way she would’ve been allowed to behave that way, but with the new generation of parents in Ireland, children are being permitted to act very differently in public (for the worse)

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