Friday, January 6, 2012

The Soft Lie

"Yoga is the best ever!!"

On my daughter's favorite show today they did something that drives me batty. They had a character telling everyone else that things are great/awesome/the best, even though they don't believe it - solely to have them agree with them. It was one of my daughter's favorite shows - Sid The Science Kid. The teacher took the kids to a park. Nice place to go. When the kids got to the park they noticed there was not playground. Which filled them with shock and dread because now there was nothing to do. Not to worry though - when asked the teacher told them they would be meditating and doing Yoga. Don't fret - the teacher nailed the sale by saying, "because it is sooo much fun!" Then after they all did that they wanted some juice and the teacher told them they'd be drinking "the tastiest drink there is!!" Which is apparently water.

Look - if I took my kids to a park that didn't have a playground on it they wouldn't ask me to entertain them due to chronic boredom. They'd go run around and play. They might ask me to play with them. But they wouldn't descend into depression because there was no slide. Secondly telling kids that Yoga is, "so much fun!" and them immediately believing it doesn't wash with me. Mostly because it's a lie. Yoga isn't fun - it hurts and is exercise without cardio-vascular activity of any kind. Add it is totally counter-intuitive considering kids want to spasm and twitch all over the place. Asking them to stand quite still for long periods of time with their eyes closed is quite a bit like telling them to go in Timeout. Lastly, nobody believes that water is the tastiest drink there is. No-one. That's why everybody drinks everything else instead. If everyone thought it was the tastiest we wouldn't have television shows blatantly making up lies about how you don't need juice because water is the best.

To really top it off the teacher didn't bring them any food for snack time. Instead the kids were instructed to pick vegetables and fruit themselves from a food garden that was in the park. You know - like migrant workers. Fair enough - my kids do that in our garden. But the narrative totally over-elaborated the point and the majority of the kids claimed not to have any idea what the strange things they were eating were. Which was absurd when the kid is eating a tomato. And after taking a bite they had oral-orgasms of such intensity they actually questioned why they'd been wasting their short lives on pish like chocolate and cakes. Not clear enough? One of the kids then exclaimed "I want to have fruits and vegetables every day!" whilst another child had a recent flashback to the Yoga and yelled in unison," I LOVE Yoga!!"

This happens all the time on kids TV. The way it's done on these shows is the worst kind of lying too. It's the, "oh everyone knows it's the best - only people not worth your time disagree..." kind of lying. It's especially silly because one of the kids/characters on the show will reaffirm the notion that all the cool kids know it's the best. Because that's using peer pressure in the same way that you'll be cursing it when a kid is fifteen and wonders whether they should try smoking and drinking even thought their parents told them to just wait until they're older and can decide. "The tastiest thing you can eat is cress!" an adult will tell a gathering of kids. All of whom are confused by this because they've eaten pizza, french fries and doughnuts. And - this is the most important thing - they've probably eaten apples and clementines and grapes as well. All of which they think are tastier than the fistful of grass that the adult is holding. And the treachery they feel when they fall for it and try the cress is huge. Because as much as I like cress - my daughter will be certain that it is very much not, "the tastiest thing you can eat!!" Go into your kitchen and peel an apple. Hand it to a three year old. They will chew on that thing until you actually have to physically wrestle it off them lest they eat the entire core. It's freaking delicious (as long as it's not a Red Delicious or some nasty mealy apple. Give me a Honey Crisp, a Pink Lady or a juicy sour Granny Smith any day). My son will drop meat and potato chips if I have an apple to come pry it off me.

I am not against promoting healthy eating, exercise or drinking at all. I've seen enough fat kids or been around enough families who's nutritional choices leave a lot to be desired. I get that. I get that if you let kids eat whatever they want it would likely be crap. And some parents do not care. My wife was a Big Sister years ago and the girl she mentored ate cereal at home. Nothing else. She ate almost all her dinner meals from take-out places. Everything else was cereal. So I understand telling families via the kids that a really good idea would be to put down the 32 ounce cola drink and go try some carrots and apples. I understand the why in this equation. I understand why people believe that it is a societal responsibility to do this.

What I don't like is the soft-lying. Don't tell kids that they should love something that they probably won't. Tell them the truth. My daughter understands why she should eat certain things. I do joke around that carrots can make you see in the dark and potato's can make you giggle harder - but she also knows that you have to eat some things to be healthy. She doesn't get told that she should eat spinach because, "it's the tastiest food known to man." Want kids to do exercise in the park? Pretend to chase them. They'll enjoy that one hundred times more than yoga and get more exercise under their belts. Don't tell them the fat kid might eat them though. That's not helpful to anyone. Especially the fat kid who should be the one doing all the running. Actually tell him all the other kids have chocolate.

And don't tell them the tastiest drink on Mother Earth is water in an attempt to have kids drink that instead of Mountain Dew and chocolate milk. Particularly when practically every other liquid known to man is tastier than water and likely available to them at home. Don't because it isn't true. I say this as a congenital liar as well. It's not okay to do this just because you have good cause. I always think I have good cause to lie when I'm doing it. Always. Just tell them why.

I probably shouldn't mention it's Fruitloop Friday at this point right?


  1. I would totally tell my kids that the fat kid would eat them. But I'd need to have kids first.

  2. Just hang around playgrounds and tell kids that wander by you to be wary of the fat ones. It's a community service really.