Jack came home all excited yesterday, telling me we should go and pick up his new watch urgently, because it would only be available until today. This was the first I'd heard of any watch. His teacher had handed out coupons to the children and told them about the time limit on it. I shall show you part of the flyer - I'm not giving the company involved the satisfaction of free advertising.
Of course once you open up this most colourful and alluring booklet, it turns out that this "free" watch will only be handed over in return for all your personal data, and two euros fifty. The shoe retailer behind the scheme has also very charitably included a five euro voucher, just in case you were to decide to buy some shoes when you get there. Apparently the shoe chain sponsored the school's cross country event, so now we should all just smile prettily and put up with this.
Jack's school has a history of questionable judgements like this. A few weeks back, he assured me I should buy a local newspaper, a rightist rag I wouldn't buy or want to be seen with. Apparently, he was 'in it.' Along with 25,000 other primary one children. Every year, they publish class pictures of all primary one classes. We're going to be goaded into buying another permutation of the same picture soon anyway. I was not amused. The other mothers did not see my problem. Whatever.
So after the newspaper incident, and again after the recent stopwatch incident, I carefully and at length explained to my five year old why, in fact, I disagreed with his beloved teacher and principal, and why I will not be buying into some cynical marketing ploy designed to separate us from our money and common sense. (The first time I explained this, we were walking down the street, and I got some very strange looks from another mother for talking to a five year old and a one year old about "cynical commercial ploys" - how are they ever going to learn those words if I don't use them, I ask you.) I'm lucky Jack's a clever boy and he understands what I'm trying to say, but at some level I'm sure he's very disappointed in me for not just going along with it like most parents and forking out the (admittedly small amount of) cash so that he can have his coveted keepsakes. I just can't bring myself to reward any company for such a scheme. Call me naive, but I would like schools to be little oases from the commercial madness going on everywhere else in the world.
The PTA should be the place to go with my concerns, and believe me, I tried. In fact, I have turned that PTA meeting into another little film. (It's short, it's snappy.) Again, I may have dramatised the proceedings a little.
Am I making something out of nothing? I still haven't found a single parent at that school who agrees with me, so I'm starting to think I may be overreacting.