27 Oct

Seeing the Dinosaurs in Lima

I took the kids down with me to run some chores in Lima on Sunday, and to reward them took them to a dinosaur exhibit that was being advertised for that weekend only in the fairgrounds called “Discover the Dinosaurs.”

I knew it would be somewhat cheesy, but the girls love dinosaurs and I thought it would be fun.

$60 worth of fun? Ouch. The tickets were crazy expensive. And as we approached the door there were parents walking out cussing up a storm. $20/person is a lot of money for a family to shell out around these parts, and people weren’t getting a lot for their money.

But, I’d been worried that this would be some sort of Creation Science exhibit where we’d find out that dinosaurs and cavemen frolicked around the Earth a few thousand years ago (that sort of thing pops up in this part of the country, and sometimes they trick to trick people in by claiming to be science exhibits), so I was happy that it was actually what was advertised.

On the other hand, an expensive dinosaur exhibit with pre-printed posters featuring wikipedia information about dinosaurs and some very limited animatronic rubber dinosaurs wasn’t exactly a science high point.

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The ‘many exciting rides’ were a line of 6 dinosaurs that gently rocked up and down for two minutes, like the pony at the grocery store:

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There were three inflatable bouncy castles with inflated dinosaurs in the middle that were the high point. The kids loved those, though since all the kids did their best to stay there, it was kid chaos. They were, literally, bouncing off the walls.

Oh, and after the $20 fee each, there was overpriced face-painting (extra) and $20 each to dig for gems and wear a hard hat (but not dino-bones, gems, it wasn’t even similarly themed). I opted out.

Afterwards Thalia turned to me. “That wasn’t a very good show, was it?”

“No,” I said. “It was kind of cheesy.”

“Well, thanks for taking us, though, Dad.”

Points for trying, dad.

On the way in, a grandfather asked me if it was as bad as the complaints online about it. “Pretty much,” I said. “But if you already have the money spent in your mind [he knew the price] there are worse ways to spend a couple hours.”

I think Calli was more blown away by browsing tools at Lowes.

Now I understand why the show only spends a weekend in any one place.

23 Oct

A Bear: an original illustration by Calli

I don’t want to be every other parent that thinks they have the most artistic children in the world and foists that upon everyone. But ever since Cal showed me the cover of a ‘book’ that she made in class about bears (including the oh-so-precocious spelling of ‘hibrnat’ for hibernate) I’ve been mulling over just how good she’s gotten at drawing things in a short time.

I mean, it was just a few months ago that everything she drew was stick figures. Like, very, very basic stuff.

Now I have a bear with a quirky expression on its face, and I just want to frame this damn thing.

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05 Mar

My twins will drop everything they’re doing to watch an Oxyclean commercial

Every once in a while, when Emily is going down to start up a load of laundry, the twins (4 years old) will call after her ‘make sure you add some Oxyclean! It takes all the stains out! Just put one scoop in the laundry.’

It’s interesting what they soak up. There are lots of other advertisements that they don’t pay any attention to. Sometimes they’ll mention something that’s pertinent to their four year old interests and say they saw it on TV at their daycare provider’s house. She occasionally has Nickelodeon on.

We don’t have cable, I resent the intrusion of advertising and find my life a little less cluttered with it. I spent a bit more to buy all my shows direct, but I enjoy having control of when and where I watch things as a cord cutter. So the kids don’t get a lot of advertising exposure here at home.

I have nothing intrinsically against it, and I try to inoculate them against it by explaining what advertising is. When they get older, I plan to do what an amazing teacher did for me in grade school; teach the basic functions of advertising and rhetorics it uses to convince you to want or buy things. Learning the ‘how’ and strains of advertising (bandwagon, expert’s prefer, you’ll be better with X) has stuck with me for life.

That being said, my kids think Oxyclean is the shit.

A few weeks ago, when we were eating something messy and Thalia dropped her sleeve in it, Calli piped up ‘don’t get mad, dad, it’s okay, we’ll just use some Oxyclean and it’ll be okay.’

‘Right,’ says Thalia. ‘Oxyclean’ll take the stain right out!’

It’s a little… weird. Because they’ll continue on talking up the wonders of Oxyclean for another couple rounds. They’re like little walking talking informercials:

“Hey, is that a bad stain.”

“Why yes, yes it is.”

“Did you know some Oxyclean will take that right out?”

“Yes, just a little bit will get rid of the stain.”

I guess I was expecting more tea play parties.

The other day at a restaurant they were chatting with each other and then they both stopped. And looked at the TV. I turned around, and it was an ad for Oxyclean. They were silent. Almost reverent for a full half minute, until it ended.

“Oxyclean,” they both said. In the same tone as those little green aliens from Toy Story.

And then they were back to ignoring what was on the TV.

I have no idea what to make of this, other than the fact that advertising is powerful. Brands are powerful. And my kids do not react to any other brand this way. But for some reason, Oxyclean is magic pixie dust and they respect the hell out of it.

And to be fair, if you happen to be in a spot of trouble regarding stains, that stuff can sometimes seem magical.