Thursday, December 10, 2009

On Caving In Regarding Commericialism

Bless me Internet for I have sinned. It has been 5 days since my last blog post. And 3 days since I officially bought into commercialism and marketing to children.

With temperatures hovering in the teens this past week, I've been fighting a losing battle to keep The Little's head warm while he's outside. My child refuses to wear a hat. It's not a new phenomenon, he's yanked hats off his head since he was an infant. In his sleep, on purpose, unconsciously. It doesn't matter if the hat is colorful, cute, ties, has flaps, is cotton or wool. He won't keep them on.

But in this rare and prolonged cold snap in the Pacific Northwest it is simply not an option to go outside without the proper clothing. When you walk outside and the boogies in your nose freeze, you KNOW it is cold.

So I took my child to the local Target - a store we usually manage to avoid simply out of necessity, because it seems we can't walk in without spending oodles of money on unnecessary items. I was in search of a hat that my child Would. Not. Pull. Off. And while were were perusing all the cute little knit caps my TWO year old son grabbed my hand and pulled me over to the end cap exclaiming, "Mama! MAMA! SPI-ER MAN!"

What?! Who taught my son about Spider-Man? I know it wasn't me. On the rare occasions that we allow him to watch television it's PBS - World World, It's a Big World, Dinosaur Train. We do not have cable. We've never watched Spider-Man in front of him. And yet? He knows Spider-Man on sight? How did this happen? Where was he exposed to Spider-Man? How on earth does a TWO (2!) year old know about him?

But still...the wheels in my head turned. What was the more important battle here? Commercialism or staying warm? If I allowed him to pick out his own hat and mittens was there a possibility that he might keep them on for longer than 4 seconds? Was it worth a shot? Would I be opening up a can of worms I didn't want to deal with later? I wasn't sure. But the need to keep warm won out over my own reservations about superheros and mass marketing to children. The industry won.

And so I allowed my son to bring home his garish red Spider-Man hat and gloves. And he has dutifully put them on every single time we've gone outside. No arguments.

And I can't decide if I should pat myself on the back for brilliant parenting or if I should go put myself in the corner for caving in on my values.


  1. It's a tough one. And you're not alone.

    Most of my little one's clothes are hand-me-downs. The majority of clothes in the bags that come our way are very heavily branded. I'm grateful but it also drives me slightly crazy. I try to go through each new batch before Aoife sees them so I can weed out the ones I'd prefer she didn't wear and give them a new home, but have caved in on a few occasions too. I find it an amazing lesson in what sponges they are, how much they soak up from the world around them.

    I've tried to adopt the same attitude to (the odd) branded garnment that you mentioned in your post on the importance of play. Sometimes a branded garnment (or plastic toy) finds its way into our lives. I try not to look at it as caving in, there's enough guilt in motherhood as is, but as a chance to re-examine and clarify my values, my view on parenting and society, etc. It often strenghtens it.

    Phew! Sorry for long reply!

  2. Every once in a while you need to cave in, but this has a positive outcome, he's wearing a hat! As for knowing about Spiderman! He's a boy! It's a knowledge already there lol! ;)

  3. Im not a mum, but I really think you shouldn't beat yourself up - keeping your son warm is important and its not like this has been the first option for you.


  4. I think the need to keep your son warm outweighs the need (want) to not have commercialism in your house. I don't know how he knew about spider man but it's probably similar to my 4 year old daughter loving Cinderella though she's never seen a Disney movie and only watches PBS sometimes.

  5. I vote for good parenting! With this cold weather, I'd let one of my kids wear an official Hannah Montana fleece lined wig if I thought they would just keep it on ;}.

    It really is amazing how little ones pick up this stuff. I had been feeling smug once upon a time when a little boy at a playground let Matteo play with his spider man with suction cup hands and Matteo kept calling it the red and blue pizza boy... flash forward a few months into preschool and he's throwing spaghetti explaining that it's spiderman's web

  6. Sometime you have to do what you have to do. ;) My middle son is the lego king, and it's something that we've decided he gains enough benefit from (following directions and expressing creativity) that we let them slide by our plastic toy ban. It works for our family. If Spiderman hat/mittens work for keeping your son's head warm, well, he's got a warm head at least. :)

  7. this really made me laugh...the hail marys and all.
    great job finding a solution to having your child wearing something warm. is it the solution you would have picked? well no...but is it ever what we really would pick anyway (i don't know what it is like at your house but my days of "picking" are dwindling fast).
    parenthood is a funny adventure. thanks for bringing us along on the ride!

  8. oh yay! I figured out how to comment on your blog! (just have to turn my pop up blocker off)

    I said it on FB - so I wont repeat myself here- but I agree with Hillary- our days of "picking" dwindle fast - and we have to trust ourselves that we are giving our kids a great foundation and a little moderation is never bad.

  9. I understand your quandry. However - your son has a warm head, neck and ears and you have less to worry about. The industry may have made a little money but I think you and your boy won!

  10. I so totally relate!!! And I'm constantly amazed by what my 3 year old knows from the marketing world. But we do the best we can. Thanks for writing so candidly. It helped me take a deep breath.

    And by the way...I keep meaning to comment on your play list. Some days, I just open your site so I can listen to that list as the music collection is so soothing. Thanks for sharing.

  11. ah yes, it was just a couple of weeks ago that i had the SAME reaction to my 2 year old son's excited recognition of batman. what?!! *they got to him!*, i thought. it was seriously the night before that my partner had been bragging on the fact that our son didn't know anything about that superhero business that other little boys seemed to be obsessed with. argh.

    your sons head is warm!!! hooray! that is still what matters here. you are a wonderfully nurturing mother and we have to remain confident that that influence will be stronger than the mainstream cultures.

  12. It's really lovely here, Mama. Did you get your Etsy thing figured out? Contact me if not. Well done on your shop doing so great. And this post, I've been there oh so many times.