Explaining the World to a Four-Year Old: “I Heard a McDonalds Sound”

Driving back home after drama class this morning (I have enrolled M in a little preschool drama group and he loves it) I had the radio on. Out of nowhere M announced from the back seat: “I heard a McDonalds sound.”

“What’s a McDonalds sound?” I asked, thinking I already knew the answer as, on reflection, the news jingle for our local radio station does seem similar to the “da da da da daaah… I’m Lovin’ It” song.

“You know,” M said. “The sound they do at the end of the advert.”

Yes. Right. Great. McDonalds has burrowed it’s way into my preschooler’s brain. Woohoo for advertising.

M often asks me about things he has heard in adverts, which is odd as he doesn’t really see that many of them except at Grandma’s house. We don’t watch a lot of TV, which isn’t to say we don’t watch anything. M tends to watch DVDs and my husband and I watch box sets or Netflix-style streaming, or we record things and then fast-forward through the adverts. I am just not that used to adverts any more and when I do watch them I do so with a detached ironic disdain.

M, however, seems to love them and views them as the oracle on ‘all-the-things-that-exist-that-I-don’t-have’, which is of course the point of advertising. He will always watch all of the adverts on his DVDs and when we are at Grandma’s house he loves the adverts on the Sky kids’ channels almost as much as the shows themselves.

At Christmas I had to tell him bluntly that I didn’t care what advert he saw or how much he liked it, Santa was under strict instructions not to bring him the game where you pick up dog poo or the game where you pull bogies out of the guy’s nose because they are just. too. gross.

Santa was also not going to bring The Dinosaur that Pooped… series of books but Grandma helped him out on that one (I still refuse to read them as they initiate my gag reflex). Those were not advertised but he was drawn to them at the bookstore like a four-year-old boy to books about dinosaurs pooping stuff.

A little before Christmas, again out of nowhere, M announced at breakfast: “it’s a good job we have adverts.” “Oh yeah?” I replied “why’s that?”

“So we know what games there are” he announced as if I was some sort of simpleton.

Yes dearest one, where would we be without adverts making us want random junky plastic crap? Just goes to show that even if you eschew commercialism, shop at charity shops and engage in a love-hate (but mostly hate) relationship with the consumer culture, your child may still have a part of their brain that knows what “The McDonalds Sound” is.

You’ve gotta love modern life. Oh no, wait, I don’t.

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Burnt Supper

British/American, postgraduate, wife, mother, dog-owner

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