Friday, October 05, 2007

Her New Set of Wheels

For Allie's birthday, we got her a bike. Now, it is entirely possible that with additional planning or research or cash, I could have avoided purchasing this particular bike.

I was seeking something relatively plain: pink would be okay (she loves pink), a few flowers or decorations also would have been acceptable.*

Never in a million years would I have envisioned our buying a purple princess bike.

I have a thing against things with characters on them. For the most part I've toed my own party line: if it's a visible item of clothing, or a shoe, no characters. I acquiesced on the underpants front because the characters were an enticement during potty training. And pajamas, bought by other people -- at least sleepwear doesn't leave the house.

I picked plain backpacks and lunchbags for the kids. Sean was puzzled by this because he is one of two kids in his class without a character on his backpack. I explained that I wanted his backpack to last several years, and chances are that his second-grade self would not care for the character he swooned over in kindergarten. Fortunately, he seemed to accept that explanation.

I guess that my problem with the character-emblazoned explosion is that it turns kids into walking billboards. For the same reason, I've never understood logos -- why is it that people actually PAY companies to advertise for them?

And yet here were are with a bike dripping with images of Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora. Hear that? PFFFTT! That's the sound of my principles flying out the window.

This bike is first runner-up in the Gaudiest Bike Ever contest. (First place goes to the pink princess bike, with its mix of hot pink and gold trimmings.) Of the places we searched for bikes, only one or two plain bikes were available, and they were either too heavy or too big. So, it pains me to say, we went with the bike we knew Allie would like best. Princesses. Purple streamers. Butterflies.

We were right. She LOVES this bike. The look on her face when she first saw it was priceless. In exchange for the further erosion of some beliefs that may or may not have been so important in the first place, we have one very happy little girl.

What's your opinion of characters? Hate them on clothes but not other things? Think they are the ultimate instrument of corporate devilry? Think that there are far bigger fish to fry and that this is nothing to worry about? Do tell!

*Note that I have chosen not to examine too closely the gender-based differences between boys and girls bike. I am certainly aware of them, but trust me when I say that Allie would not have liked a brightly colored boys bike.