Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The bad dental advice of children's movies

It's bad enough that my five-year-old is regressing to his infancy in the month remaining before he starts school. He doesn't need any help from the entertainment that's geared toward him.

Regressing? Try a series of "accidents" that he had stopped having a full year ago, maybe longer. We've still got a few weeks to sort this out, but suffice it to say I'm concerned.

However, it's just poor hygiene that the TV shows and movies aimed at him are advocating.

Goosebumps isn't out here yet -- a strange fate for a Halloween movie, which will finally be rectified next Thursday -- but we've seen the trailer before just about every movie we've watched recently. I'm pretty sure that's three times, though to be honest, I can only think of two movies we would have seen during the time period they would have logically been showing Goosebumps trailers: Hotel Transylvania 2 (another Halloween movie) and The Good Dinosaur this past Sunday.

Anyway, the trailer has made quite an impression on my son, as it walks that line between attracting him and repelling him. He is of course drawn in by the images, but he's also scared of them. It's a tightrope act children his age must constantly walk.

The moment from the trailer he mentioned of his own accord yesterday, though, was a humorous one, when that kid jumps on the werewolf unleashed from one of R.L. Stine's books and bites him on the neck. It has the desired effect of driving off the monster because the kid has silver fillings. When the girl he has a crush on asks for an explanation, he admits it was because of the whole year he went without brushing his teeth.

Every parent in the audience cringes when he or she hears a thing like that. And then when your kid brings it up again on his own ... well, it looks like we may need to go back to monitoring our son's brushing more closely, like we did before we trusted him.

As luck would have it, this is also the time that we're trying to teach him the right routine for washing up after using the bathroom. (When he remembers to get to the bathroom in time, that is -- which, to be fair, is still most of the time.) He also watches a show on Australian TV called Lah Lah's Big Love Band, which features a perky female singer who waltzes through an animated playhouse with her equally perky male bandmates for about three songs per episode. One of those songs contains the lyrics

I like to wash my hands and wipe 'em on my pants
I like to wash my hands and wipe 'em on my pants
I like to wash my hands and wipe 'em on my pants
And that's the way I like to do it

Since he first heard that song, we haven't gotten him to use a towel once.

What are the writers of these movies and TV shows thinking? In the case of Goosebumps, they're probably thinking "Don't take your kids to see Goosebumps if they haven't mastered brushing their teeth yet." (And then I'm thinking, in response, "Okay, don't show the Goosebumps trailer before movies my brushing challenged son might see!") In terms of Lah Lah's Big Love Band, though, that is absolutely, definitely a show aimed at kids who are five or even younger. I guess it's never too early to try to tap into a viewer's sense of dormant rebellion.

At least there isn't a song that goes

I like to poop my pants although I'm starting school
I like to poop my pants although I'm starting school
I like to poop my pants although I'm starting school
And my parents don't know what the hell to do about it

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