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Thursday, Nov. 06, 2003 | link
Have you seen the latest "scary parenting" commercial, the one with the little boy who wets the bed? Oh man, it's right up there with "off-meds mommy sure needs an awful lot of paper towels."
It starts with a millisecond of horror -- I'm not sure how they do this, convey the sense of complete dread in a half-ounce of air time, but I worry it has something to do with a rapid-fire assault of subliminal images (vomit and scabs and gunshot wounds) and sounds (trapped kittens, screaming tornadoes) -- then we see this small boy, maybe five years old, bolting up from bed with a suppressed scream. Right away we cut to this wet, wet close-up of drenched bed sheets. We hold there for a second, and it's pretty gruesome, looking at the sheen of it, so fresh and hot it hasn't even absorbed back into the layers of fabric. It's ... it's a lot. Then we see the boys face completely screwed up with worry as he whispers to this wagging, mildly retarded-looking golden retriever, "Don't tell Mommy!"
Those three little words carry a weight of such desperation that you can't help but wonder, my god, what has mommy been doing to little Bobby-Benny-Sammy when he wets the bed? Burning him with an iron set to "cotton"?
Then the kid drags his bedding through the house, and we see that it's a really nice house, the kind of really nice that usually takes the combined salaries of two exceedingly Type A personalities to afford, the very same Type A personalities that I've noticed, growing up as I did on the sidelines of some extreme wealth, tends to make the very worst parents ... something about the evil teaming of excessive drive with emotional distance.
At this point we see Mom, kind of a young Sharon Stone affair, looking on with a face bursting with a level of extreme pride that would make sense only if she'd caught her son actually making it to the potty on time, and not proving how fundamentally terrified he was of her by sneaking off in the dark of night to spend two hours on his knees on the stone floor in front of the washer-dryer just so she wouldn't discover his little accident.
Because that's what he does, he sits there on his knees. And not in the open, ankles-down pose little kids slip into but in this weird, highly erect and composed pose that speaks of yoga classes signed up for by parents with eyes already on the college resume.
I guess what we're supposed to take away from the ad is that, what, this washer-dryer is so easy to use, even a child afraid of being spanked to the bleeding point can figure out how to use it? If so, I'll take two!