SO, what did everyone think of the Nationwide commercial during last night's Superbowl? I have to admit, I only heard about it this morning on the news. After 14 years of living in America, I'm still blissfully unaware of all things football unless I've picked up something from watching The League. I know that a touchdown requires an epic dance move, the half-time show created the term "wardrobe malfunction" and that Supermodel Gisele married a football player and moved to some town which is NOT New York. Whaaaat? Oh, and that the WHOLE point of sitting through men in tights tackling each other (not that I'll ever tire of buff men in skin-tight clothes...or stop giggling at the position of a "Tight-End") for an seemingly endless amount of time is to watch the uber-expensive, creative, and witty Superbowl commercials.
People are pissed. The Nationwide ad caused a furor for it's fear-mongering. It's a depressing moment for the millions of families eagerly awaiting the next fun commercial. It comes across as a public-service ploy by big business, playing on every parent's scaredy-cat emotions. People are irritated that they dared cross this line, all on a platform used to garner millions of new customers every year. How typical of an insurance company, nonetheless! However, let's forget about that. The ad wasn't really about that poor little dead boy. It's about the anguish every single parent would feel if they were to cause the tiny mistake that led to a child's death.
Ever since I became a parent I've lived every moment in abject fear and terror. "What if...?" is the question that marks my every thought. Should he go to the park? What if some pervert grabs him? If my husband is looking after him while I nap, what if he falls asleep on top of him? If grandma gives him a bath, what if she leaves for a quick second to grab a towel? What if the nanny I hired is tired and irritated and hurts him when I'm out one day? More recently, what if some crazy gun-toting person walks into his preschool and goes nuts? They've just started a new type of safety drill at my son's school; filing into a small room and practicing keeping quiet. That is equal parts crazy and common-sense to me!
Writing down these few running fears off the top of my head, I feel I can't be the ONLY parent who thinks like this. Right? I can't be the only parent who would mar a rare good night's sleep by waking up constantly to make sure my restful baby was breathing. I can't be the only parent that sends emails full of instructions to family members charged with caring for my little kids for an evening or a weekend. And yet I'm always being told that I need to relax more, that our parents used to put us to sleep on our tummies, on soft mattresses, with pillows and blankets, leave our bibs on in the crib (if we even had one), never used car seats, that seat belts were scoffed at, that nothing is going to happen. But What If...?
We've moved into the era of helicopter parenting, where nothing is too little of a threat, and no parent can be too vigilant. Yes it is unnecessary and extreme sometimes. There does need to be a balance. While we can't protect our kids every second of every day, while we can't help if some freakish accident were to occur, if it were totally preventable and our fault, life would not be livable.
I visited the site Nationwide set up for safety, Make Safe Happen and it's a perfectly useful tool for parents and grandparents to educate or remind themselves of basic safe practices within the home. Stuff that we all know, mainly. If it had been set up by diapers.com, babycenter, or webmd, it would be applauded. Yeah, I KNOW. Even the best corporate social responsibility initiatives are designed to sell, sell, sell, albeit subconciously. Look at TOMS or Warby Parker. Giving away shoes and glasses is wonderful, and it definitely pushes me towards purchasing their products. I'm not offended by the Nationwide ad at all. I like that there's a site I can visit for child safety at home, I like feeling like I'm not crazy to think of these things. Also, I can't be mad at them when they redeemed themselves by airing a laugh out loud, Superbowl-y spot featuring Mindy Kaling and Matt Damon.
If you've been living under a rock and missed them, you can watch both spots here:
What are your thoughts, people?