Google is a wonderful tool.
During a family discussion, my kids started talking about Cookie Monster getting replaced with Veggie Monster, a healthy, green version of the infamous googly-eyed “Sesame Street” character.
My first reaction was, “Where did you hear this garbage?” — with no disrespect meant for Oscar the Grouch’s abode.
Upon further reflection, however, I realized that it was entirely possible. I mean, you have a mayor of one of the U.S. largest cities trying to tell you what sizes of soda you can and can’t drink, you have a major component of cookies — sugar — getting more and more attention as being a poisonous bane.
And you have child obesity rates skyrocketing and people don’t want negative influences on their impressionable children.
Naturally, I started buying into this Veggie Monster and the possibility the cuddly blue puppet from my childhood had been tossed mercilessly into the politically correct waste bin.
He could join the Murderer’s Row of Boogeymen the public has turned on. He can bum smokes off of Joe Camel, scarf down Happy Meals with Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar, and rot teeth munching on cereal with the Trix Bunny and Tony the Tiger.
It almost makes one Grimace.
If we get angry at these characters, it takes the burden off of ourselves. Do you realize that one aspect that researchers look at when evaluating childhood obesity is the “Nag Factor?” That’s where your darling cherub is turned into a maniacal beggar by the Evil Media:
“Can I have this (insert name of sugary snack of your choice), Mom. Pleeeeaseeeee? Can I? Can I? Can I?”
I was one of those kids myself, but my particular weakness was for cheap toys. My mother had a pretty good tool to use when I got in that state. It was a very complex strategy, one that must have taken years to master. It was the word “No.”
But that was back in the hardscrabble days where we walked 5 miles barefoot to school. It can’t possibly work in modern times. “No” has become a dirty word, one that crushes a little one’s psyche and leads him or her down a path of rejection. It’s also harder on the adults.
Saying “No” generally leads to whining, crying and a few minutes of hassle, and we are too darn busy for that! So we say “Yes!” Yes, you can rot your teeth out with sugary snacks. Yes, you can play another three hours of “Call of Duty.”
Yes, you can have another french fry.
When I Googled Veggie Monster and found out he’s a myth. What isn’t a myth is saying no and teaching kids how to eat better and to go outside and get exercise.
When Googling something is easier than parenting, we might be in a world of trouble.
You can reach Scott Cost at firstname.lastname@example.org.