By Carol Kaufmann, Mama Tricks
What could be better than a small, cozy Super Bowl party for four after an excruciating week of stomach viruses and respiratory plagues? It seemed only appropriate for our on-the-mend family of four to have a wholesome night as we took part in that great American winter holiday: The Super Bowl.
With broccoli soup in easy-to-handle coffee mugs and red pepper slices, carrots and cukes splayed on a tray—and me ignoring the hubby’s slightly skeptical expression over the fare— we were psyched to take part in the ritual. Millions across the country would be doing the same, though probably with less healthy snacks.
We were prepared to explain to our kids, ages 4 and 6, the Superbowl extravaganza: 1. How the yearly game is a uniquely American tradition 2. Iconic pop stars and, given the age of on-demand TV 3. Commercials
Things quickly went awry. Rules aren’t my kids’ strong suit anyway and somehow the adrenaline flowing in Indianapolis made its way east to our home. By the time the soup pan lid became a snowboard and the throw rug its snow, we realized we wouldn’t be teaching the football basics. I also didn’t anticipate my son reenacting every tackle. On his sister. Bad Idea #1
A Madonna spectacle, perhaps, would be an entre into the strange and ubiquitous world of pop music fun. The questions came quickly: “Why are those people wearing those weird masks? Why is that guy walking on a rope?” We didn’t know how to respond—(in part, because we’re still waiting for answers.) Eager to imitate, the dining room table became a dance stage and my innocent girl donned her swimsuit and shimmied all over the throw rug/snow. Bad idea #2
Commercials fared better. The pooch trying to lose weight so he could make it through his dog door had universal appeal (Though what he was advertising? Anyone remember?) A mini-human appearing out of a car buyer’s neck, Harry Potter-style, also prompted gales of giggles and requests to “Play it again!” from the young audience. But David Beckham’s new underwear ad begged explanations way too complicated to share. And the Audi Vampire party? Eesh. Overall, Bad idea #3
What did we learn?
1. Like all good lessons, a sporting event, especially in the confines of one’s house, is best kept short. A four-hour game? What were we thinking?
2. Pop Icons will enter the world of the young. But until it does, we are to be a shield, not an interpreter. In the case of the constant parade of beautiful but highly annoying kids on Disney channel—and any subsequent bizarre Madonna moments—a large shield.
3. We live rather well without commercials. Why regress?
But perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that the American campfires we enjoyed during our childhoods—the last episode of MASH, the World Series, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, even the evening news—are no more, as much as I want to recreate them. Despite record number of viewers for this Superbowl, the nation’s collective attention was diverted by the tweets, posts, pings, I.M.’s, the glitz, the ads that overshoot—all reflected in the network’s somewhat desperate attempts to keep up (I mean, is Madonna really Superbowl fare?) isn’t exactly the collective event I want to be such a big deal, especially for the kids. And though hearing the national anthem sung simply and beautifully is still a moment to be enjoyed perhaps it’s time to find new American rituals for the fam.
What do you think?
Carol Kaufmann regularly shares her “Mama Tricks” with The Well Mom. Her work has appeared in Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, The Washington Post, and in the anthology, A Woman’s Europe. She lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband, two children and two obese rescue cats.