Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Now, For A Limited Time Only!!!

The salesman was good- I'll grant him that. But he could have never known that he had a slam-dunk just by virtue of the fact that he was selling to my kids.

My kids are a Marketer's dream come true! When they were young enough to just understand television commercials, they would quote the "Made for TV" spots verbatim. When I would talk about making a desert, they would helpfully offer, "Mom, you should get that Betty Crocker Cake Decorating Set. You can get 17 pieces for the low, low price of only $19.99, plus shipping and handling."

They loved McDonald's strictly for the Happy Meal toys. They thought Chucky Cheese was the closest thing to Heaven. And they could spot their favorite PBS characters (Teletubbies and Barnie) across an entire store in a very small corner of a box of diapers in Spanish.

We wanted "Trix" yogurt for the Rabbit. And they were ripe for the picking for any new Disney movie character. I had to refuse the pleading to decorate an entire room in a particular character that they LOVED, because I knew their taste was fickle enough that the current character du jour would make way for yet another in a very short period of time.

They have grown up, but not out, of loving the thrill and excitement of a really good advertisement. Now they line themselves up with Justice for Girls, Naruto and just about any decent super hero. And they LOVE all the pre-teen advertisements who offer up the feeling of being "mature."

So as we were walking off our supper in the mall tonight the man selling Super Shammies made my children stop, stare and move in closer. He handed them "free" little 3 x 3 cut up pieces of shammy, which they held like precious treasure. Then he proceeded to ask them to help by telling them what they liked to drink that frequently spilled on the carpet. They were so hooked.

When he squeezed out the liquid, all three of my children responded with such appropriate "ooh's" and "aah's," I'm sure other by-standers thought my kids were ringers. When he mentioned that they could be used on cars, they excitedly offered that their daddy would love them for his BMW. I saw Salesman twitch a small smile upon hearing "BMW."

When he finished his presentation, he told us the price, and then cut it in half and doubled the product. My children were speechless. They stood in awe of this remarkable, one-time-only deal.

They turned to me, eyes pleading, hands clasped in front of their chests, still clinging to their own miniature shammies. Salesman smiled easily. He knew he had won.

"How many would you like?" he asked smoothly. I was a little irritated because I felt tricked. And I felt like I had somehow let my children be used by this man. And I knew the kids were going to bug me about this forever.

I reasoned with myself:

1. I had, indeed, wanted Shammies, for hubby for Father's Day, and had looked at the TV offer and online.
2. His price was, indeed, cheaper than either other option.
3. His price was even cheaper than E-Bay.
4. His price was cheaper than Target or Wal-Mart.
5. And (the clincher) my kids thought they were a miracle worthy of being canonized by the Catholic church.

"OK," I relented. "Give me the blue ones."

Salesman smiled easily. My children were (literally) jumping up and down with glee.

As we walked away, my three children were stroking my back, hugging my arm and jumping up and down: "Thank you, mommy. Oh, thank you! You are the BEST mommy EVER!" (Hah! I thought, that's not what they were saying 10 minutes ago when I refused to buy the 1/2 priced stuffed animal at the Disney Store. But, hey, I took the adulations anyway.)

I wonder if all children raised in today's society have similar reactions to being sold. Are they so used to being besieged by television, magazines, peers and even the Salesman at the kiosk in the mall that they don't know how to discern what they want versus what they need? Or is it just my children who crave "the sales pitch"?

I'm trying to teach my kids to ask questions, to evaluate the product, the idea or the statement. I want them to know the pros and cons of making a purchase, a decision or taking a side. How do I do that when my values and ideals stand so squarely in opposition with most of what's out there? I can have them listen to Christian music, take them to church, and sanitize my home from all of the "junk." But they live in the real world and are confronted with the stuff every time they step foot out of my house.

So, I continue to try to educate. I ask them questions. I encourage them to ask me questions. And I am always as (appropriately) truthful with them as I can possibly be.

My fears are double-edged, you see. For as much as I worry about them being taken in by the world now, I worry more that they will rebel against all of the things we value as they turn into "free-thinking teenagers." I worry that the tattoos will become too enticing, the piercings will be too "cool." I fidget when I consider that they may like hanging out with the "bad" kids, because it makes them feel "mature." And I can't even begin to think of the drugs and sex issues without breaking into hives.

I hope to be able to look back at this time in years to come and laugh at the very idea of worrying over such fine, upstanding young men and women. But for now, I am cautiously optimistic.

And (*bonus*) I have some really cool Super Shammies that will pick up spills, last for five years and clean glass without scratching.

AND, my kids think I'm cool (for the moment) for owning such miracles of modern science. So, maybe Salesman wasn't the only one who came out a winner tonight...

1 comment:

ThePrincessMommy said...

Very good! But . . . does it really work?