Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The A-ha Moment

     I don't know if any of you have been watching any television lately, but I certainly have.  And one of the things that I noticed was a commercial from the 100-year old insurance and investment giant Mutual of Omaha.  In this commercial they proclaimed to be the "Official Sponsor of the A-ha Moment."  Ummm...okay.  Well, lucky for us, Company, they offered us an example of the A-ha Moment, and it didn't even involve a music video with a real person becoming a drawing and running away from motorcycle racers who chased them with wrenches.  If you didn't get that reference, don't worry.  I got lost halfway through it too.  Just click here to get the idea.  Anyway, the A-ha Moment apparently came thanks to a little kid who has an exceptional awareness of the world.  As he was about to turn six this kid asked his mom if he could ask the people coming to his birthday party to bring donations for homeless animals instead of gifts.  Oh my.
     At first I was not sure how to take this.  As you might expect, my first instinct was to rip this kid to shreds.  Well, not so much the kid, as that's not really cool of one to do, but the parents mostly.  Because I don't know if you've noticed but I am a little bit bitter and jaded at times, so immediately I started think of parents who are steering this kid in a direction that was going to make him a smug, conceited uppity prick.  Like, I imagined the parents taking little Reed, that was the kid's name - Reed - to the friendly local animal shelter to pick out a puppy and totally draining the fun and joy out of the whole experience.  Like, instead of letting Reed (Bradley B's brother is named Reed and I always called him Weed because I thought that was hilarious even if Bradley B did not) run around the Humane Society trying to decide if he wanted a beagle or a fluffy lab-collie mix or that cuddly rottweiler growling in the cage all by it's lonesome, the douchebag parents were leading him by the hand from cage to cage, explaining to him that the pets here were like homeless dogs and cats and that if you didn't pick one they would all be euthanized.  Oh yeah, that's what I was envisioning.  Little Reed crying while terrified to pick the wrong kitten to take home lest the other ones be put to death for not being good enough.  I can also see his parents teaching him on the ride home that the homeless guinea pigs could be saved if people would give donations to make the world a better place.  That is what was going through my head: parents destroying Reed's childhood in order turn him into a haughty elitist.  But the mom didn't quite fit the bill as she was sitting on my TV screen, so I, being a progressive Twenty-first Century kind of person, decided I would do a little research before I made up my mind.
     So I looked into it a little bit more.  And by a little bit I mean that I watched the commercial again.  And I looked up the website for The A-ha Moment.  And what I am thinking now is that I hit the nail not on the head but with a sort of glancing blow.  You know, like when you are shooting pool and you don't quite hit the balls straight on like you wanted to but you sort of hit them off to the side a little bit and they go skittering off in every direction.  That's what I think I did.  Because mommy-dearest certainly looks the part and that is still the gut feeling that I get about her.  But the way she talks, and the little blurb she writes about her kid and her family sort of makes me think that she's more everyday normal.  Here's the scoop:
     Mommy and little Reed were watching a show about stray animals, and then the next day, all by his lonesome, he popped the question.  Pretty cool kid if you ask me.  I sort of think though that it was one of those perfect storm-type scenarios.  Like, if the show had been about starving kids in Ethiopia I am not sure that the kid would have been so into it.  I think that he dug it because kids like puppies and kitties and pheasants and rhinoceri.  So I think that kept his attention and made him think about it, and then the next day his little brain was probably replaying the scenes of fluffy kittens named Snookums rolling around in a Bombay gutter and he popped the question.  But here is the reason I say that I was only partly wrong about the parents setting the kid up to be a smug d-bag someday.  See, what kind of parent makes their kid watch a show about homeless animals?  That's depressing.  You want to know how I know she made the kid watch that?  Because I am a grown up and can make my own decisions and I know that anyone who can make their own decisions doesn't decide to watch that.  Because it makes you sad.  So the parents had to have a hand in that.  And the parents had to be drilling stuff like that into the kid because 100% of the 5-year olds that I know have no idea of the concept of the donation.  Do you see what I mean here?  The parents somewhere along the way had to have given Reed the basis for coming up with an idea like that.  Kindergartners aren't learning that kind of stuff on the streets.
     So where does that leave us?  How have we come to here?  Right when I am starting to lean on the parents as raising a uppity kid the mom snaps me back to center.  Because what she did was not prattle on about how people should change the world by being like her kid, she made a very realistic and cogent point.  She notes "We're not going to be able to change the world, just the three of us in our family, but we can make a difference.  It doesn't have to be this grand thing.  You can just make a decision that you're going to change the lives of people or animals in any way that you can."  DING, DING, DING!  We have a winner.  She gets it.  That's the idea behind things like The Bump Experiment.  It's almost impossible for one person to change the world; all you can do is change the world and the lives directly around you.  And that's what Reed did.  He made the family change things a little bit and that makes the world a better place.  Reed's family now holds a birthday party every year in which all the attendees bring donations for some charity.  And mom and dad, who share the same birthday, don't give each other presents.  They just give a donation to some charitable organization.  It's not a lot but it makes a difference.  And she understands that, so I just don't know how to feel about the parents.
     So I guess the jury is out on Reed and the A-ha Moment parents.  Or at least my jury is.  So I remain conflicted, and I probably will until the commercials stop appearing on my TV.  Until then I will watch every one of the commercials with Reed or any of the other people on the A-ha Moment website with a raised eyebrow like I am questioning everything, or with my ears perked up like I am a dog who is confused as hell.  I probably never will figure it out, either, but I think it's okay.  Even if the parents are raising their little kid to be a snobbish prick, then there is at least some hope because they get it.  Or at least they have some false modesty, which is a good start.  So let The A-ha Moment live and maybe the world will get to be a little better place, one degree at a time.  Even if the whole thing IS sponsored by Mutual of Omaha.

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