Sunday, February 22, 2004

The Preschool Marketing conspiracy theory.

The other night I drew the short stick, so it was my turn to give our four year old daughter a bath. (Not that it's a painful process, it just takes FOREVER to get a four year old out of the bathtub as opposed to her nonverbal one-year old little brother.) I prepared myself for the imminent requests for playing "mommy-sister", "baby-mommy" and the typical relationship playacting the wee lass tends to engage, when she floored me with the following:

"Hi, and welcome to Pepsi House!"

Hmm? Hrmm? Thinks I as I jerk my head in her direction..."What's that, honey?", I inquired, hoping I had misheard or she had misspoken.

"Welcome to Pepsi House. Would you like to try some of our delicious Pepsi? It's REALLY home-made". Says my daughter with a cocked head, smarmy grin on her face, eyelids in an almost alluring droop.

What the? How in the heck does this kid even know what Pepsi is? We are in the Southern neck of Pepsi's birth, admittedly, but this house is a Diet Coke house, dagnabbit! That kid has never seen me drink a Pepsi, or Diet Pepsi, I guarantee.

"What flavor Pepsi would you like, ma'am", she croons, in an all too realistic waitress voice (that of the waitress who wants a great tip?)

Egads! Who has gotten to her, and how? The only t.v. she watches in our house is before school and after dinner, strictly PBS kids shows recycled on digital cable one after the other. Minimal commercials, mostly for fiber-rich cereals. Nope, she's not getting the Pepsi indoctrination at home, that's for sure.

But then, there's always her Montessori pre-school, yeah, that institution of higher learning that will mold her inner child into a genius by age five...Surely capitalist advertising isn't allowed within the bastion of learning that is "Children's House?" The only time I can recall seeing the classroom t.v. on is at the end of the day, when the kids are waiting to be picked up by their parents. And they've always been watching the de rigeur "Bob the Builder" or "Magic Schoolbus" videos.

Perhaps there's more sinister goings-on during the day, however? Is it possible that the teachers have fallen into the sleazy trap of Pepsi marketers, lured by hints of free soda to enhance their lowly pedagogical salaries? Did the "Pepsi Mobile" stop by one day, the slick suited driver strutting in to announce, "This is now the Children's House of PEPSI! Yessiree!"

Do the teachers take each child aside slyly, out of earshot of the others, and whisper things like: "I want to tell you a super duper secret--only to you, because you are my favorite--Drink Pepsi!" Or, "Did you know that Pepsi is the greatest, and tastes homemade?" ... "Make sure your Mommy and Daddy buy lots of Pepsi..."
Hmm, maybe they even get a commission if they can prove they've switched a family "over from the other team"?!

I dunno, maybe too much Diet Coke is going to my head? Lots of sodium, you know. But then, there was that little bathtime incident. It went on for almost an hour; her pouring different "flavors" of Pepsi bath-suds into a little pink pitcher for me to pretend to ingest, over and over. Oh, the horror! What awaits for me the next time I draw bath duty, I wonder?