Better than knock-knock jokes

My children have discovered this World Wide Web thing, and my life may never be the same.

We were riding along in the car today, on our way home from grocery shopping, and Chickadee piped up from the back seat: “Mama, when you were a kid, and you didn’t have computers, what did you DO if you wanted to know something about something?” I suggested that I was going to need just a WEE BIT more information to go on, to answer that question, and she continued: “I mean, what if you wanted to find out the state bird or whatever?”

When I told her we would go to the library, she LAUGHED AT ME. “They don’t have EVERYTHING at the LIBRARY!” she scoffed.

I wish I was eight again. It must be nice to know everything.

So, I went on to explain that no, they don’t have EVERYTHING at the library, but they do have a whole lotta information, and back when I was a kid, we had to do this thing called RESEARCH to find answers sometimes. No, we couldn’t sit down and type in whatever we wanted and instantly have 800 pages of results, but we had reference materials, and the periodical section, and MICROFILM!

I totally lost them at microfilm. Monkey piped up that he thought it was neat that my library had giant viewmasters, and at first I tried to explain that no, it’s not like that… and then I just gave up.

They cannot conceptualize a world where Google doesn’t exist.

And really, it’s fine with me that they’re computer-savvy and learning how to find things they need and all of that. But now there is DANGER lurking around every corner.

More accurately, there is danger lurking in every freaking television commercial.

It all started with the Superbowl. In what was probably the most crackheaded move in all of marketing history, the new string of Pepsi commercials debuted along with the new website: BROWN AND BUBBLY DOT COM. And so the begging began. WE WANT TO VISIT THAT SITE, MAMA. WE NEED TO GO THERE.

Meanwhile, I am picturing not so much the delicious refreshment of Pepsi as a fetish site dedicated to people in dire need of Imodium, if you catch my drift.

By the third request, I broke down and violated every rule of Keeping Your Upper Hand In Parenting: I confessed to the children why the mention of that site was causing my eye to twitch. We all laughed for about an hour.

Brown and bubbly dot com is now a handy punchline to almost any joke, in our house. (And yeah, I prefer Diet Coke with Lime to the idea of diarrhea, anyway. Sorry, Pepsi.)

But now every commercial they see sparks a dire need to USE MY COMPUTER. And I am very attached to my computer. Plus I figure I should probably be sort of monitoring what these kids are doing online, I guess, even though I would like them to only use my computer when I’m busy doing other Very Important Things, such as showering or sleeping.

So, I’ll do things like tell them they’re welcome to go over to Pop Cap and play Chuzzle while I make lunch. And then I’ll hear whispering and giggling and Chickadee will call out something like “Hey Mama? How do you spell Big Fat Awesome House Party?” and then I’ll have a coronary.

[Big Fat Awesome House Party turns out to be a very cool Cartoon Network thing, but that is SO NOT what I was expecting when I first heard it….]

Or, they’ll see a commercial and insist they need to go visit Postopia, and so we’ll check it out, and it’s just little games and stuff, so I’ll say fine, and then the next thing I know, Monkey is standing on my head screaming “WE NEED TO BUY HONEYCOMB! WE NEED A TOKEN!” When I ask him to stop speaking in tongues, it is not-so-patiently explained to me that they are busy building bigmouths and they require a token from a box of Honeycomb cereal in order to get their own bigmouth. “This one is just a LOAN,” Chickadee said, with palpable sadness. “I want a bigmouth that I can KEEP.”

“Huh,” I said, staring at the monstrosity on the screen, “That’s funny, because I’m pretty sure you already HAVE a big mouth.”

“I do? WHERE?” Her eyes lit up; maybe we’d bought Honeycomb and she’d missed it?

“Right there,” I pointed at her mouth with one hand and tickled her neck with my other hand. “THERE’S your big mouth. It’s HUGE. You’re ALL SET!”

She was not amused.

But later on, we went to the store, and I bought them a box of Honeycomb. Because it was on sale. Not because Monkey started cackling “BROWN AND BUBBLY DOT COM!” while we were in the cereal aisle.

Shut up.


  1. Melanie

    Your kids are hilarious ;) The other day my youngest (age 4, named Nate) was in the back seat talking into a phone and he says “Ok, just go to and I’ll take care of it!” too funny!

  2. Jennifer

    Too funny!
    If you ever want to use your computer again, never introduce them to Neopets! ( Even I, as a fully rational adult, spent MONTHS on ths site! Months. at. a. time.
    Good luck!

  3. Heather

    Oh man, kids are scary. ;-) The “Brown and bubbly dot com” totally made me think the same thing. It just sounds nasty.

  4. hollygee

    Two of my former workmates are animators at Popcap. Really talented guys. Weird, but talented. How come talent and weirdness often go hand in hand?

  5. Mocha

    Brown and Bubbly should be about pooping. No question.

  6. David

    You know, it might be an interesting experience to take the kids to the library and show them what a set of encyclopedias look like. If you bribe the librarian, maybe she’ll even go “SHHHH!” That’s timeless, you know.

  7. TW

    Ha ha ha. My son, when he was about 6 was talking to me about the first Thanksgiving. He couldn’t wrap his head around why the pilgrims just didn’t order from Netgrocer and have the brown present truck bring food. (This was in the boom days of internet shopping when Netgrocer, and sent more free stuff than you could shake a stick at.)

    As for House Party and Big Mouths, NO KIDDING.

  8. Latte Man

    If you don’t already have it, get NetNanny (or similar program), immediately. While I understand you keep an eye on what sites they are going to (as do I), with the evil people that grab the common misspellings of web site names, trying to go to something that is OK for them, could drag them somewhere… evil. (For example instead of brings you to a fairly benign site, but it could be worse).

  9. Zuska

    You know, I have to agree with Monkey. Microfilm and Viewmasters ARE similar!! Except, of course, with a Viewmaster you get that great pseudo 3-D effect.

    It is VERY funny to watch my kids pause the TV (thanks to the DVR), grab a pencil and paper and write down the web address of anything and everything. So not how I lived my childhood!!!

  10. Randi

    *sigh* and so my world is made a little smaller by the fact that I have dial-up and can never get the full experience of those sites…

    Bad for me, good for the kiddies though!

    They say we’ll be getting high speed in…oh..2008 or so…Ugh.

  11. ben

    I wanna know what happened to the guy that approved the “brown and bubbly” campaign. Seriously. I laughed the minute I saw the commercial for the first time, thinking that would be a great companion for Taco Bell.

    My kids know how to look up movie listings on the computer. We have never subscribed to a newspaper since they were born, so they have no idea that we used to lay open the entertainment section and look for movies THAT way.

    I have our browser set to open to PBS Kids, btw. I find myself watching cartoons sometimes when I should be paying bills.

  12. elswhere

    Heck, I can barely conceptualize a world where Google doesn’t exist, and I’m 40 years old! And a librarian!

    It’s true; I find myself thinking back to times in the past when I wanted information (like, say, when I was 17 and planning my first solo vacation) and feeling a mental jolt at the realization that I had to BUY A GUIDEBOOK to figure out where to go…

  13. nicole

    try letting them surf – this is the website of the PBS channel of ontario, canada. this site has won awards worldwide- all commercial-free, edcational content, zillions of fun smart games. there is nothing bad on this site, and no links, ad popups, or viruses, either. it’s like a giant internet strawberry. they will like it. and it will be good for them.

  14. Nothing But Bonfires

    “We need to buy honeycomb” sounds like one of those things men in foreign films say to one another as they hand over the briefcase on an anonymous park bench, both wearing trench coats and dark glasses. You know, sort of like “the red bird flies at midnight” or “the bagel is in Nantucket.”

  15. Ben

    Whoa – for a second there, I thought you said the “the bagel is in the bucket.” That would be bad, very bad.

  16. TrudyJ

    I constantly wonder how I knew stuff before Google. One night many years ago my husband (then boyfriend) sat around for HOURS trying to remember the title of a movie we’d both seen years ago … we could remember who was in it and the basic plot, but not the title. We teased at it for hours and finally felt such success when we remembered. Today? Ten seconds on . I suppose we’ve lost something precious there, but I don’t really care.

    And the giant viewmaster thing? Not a bad analogy. My kids are fascinated with “ancient” technology — they can watch my parents’ record player going around for minutes on end. Students at a high school I once taught at found an old filmstrip viewer in a closet and for about a week the big craze at lunchtime was to go the library (sorry, Learning Resource Centre) and watch filmstrips. Totally alien tech.

  17. DebR

    See what I miss by not watching the Superbowl?

    I love your kids’ reaction to the thought of doing Research at the Library! Gasp! Did you tell them about chiseling notes on stone tablets? :-)

  18. Stephanie

    I have also wondered how we did anything without Google. They should make a voice activated porto-Google so you can carry it around with you and whenever you have a question you can just say, “state bird Nebraska,” and up pops the answer. No one would ever have to learn anything because all the answers would be readily available. But just imagine what would happen in a worldwide technology failure. Bird, what’s a bird?

  19. christine

    My two have found Millsberry.Com to be a great site. And they dont’ require you to buy their cereal to play. You create a virtual character and save/spend Millsbucks, play games etc. My oldest wants to play RuneScape. I’m not ready for that much virtual interaction with the internet.

  20. lena

    Is it an indication of my maturity level that I giggled and repeated “Brown and bubbly. Heh.” to my computer screen?

    I too am fascinated that I used to take a horse and buggie to the library to look at microfiche. Like some kind of old world spy. WTH?

    You have to try Diet Vanilla Black Cherry Coke Mir. STAT.

  21. Christina

    My daughter’s first memorized website was and she recited it at the dinner table to my mom (who is a computer savvy nut) when my daughter was 3 – made my mom so proud, but a little scary to think how fast the world of information is changing.

  22. Bryn, North Wales, UK


    14 day free trial, age appropriate settings can be customised by you to your requirements (takes a little time but it is worth it), and your password allows access to sites which are blocked for kids.
    Yes, I know I’m suspicious & untrusting. I’m also a parent responsible for the moral wellbeing of my child, and for the legal operation of my Internet account…….

    CAVEAT : No automated system is 100% reliable, and sometimes images can slither past the defences; I have used the program on my sons machine since he was 10 and old enough to “fly solo”; it seems to keep MOST undesireable stuff at bay.

    Anyone else out there with experience of other Parental Control programs?

  23. Caryn

    First of all, I admit to being a little nervous about raising kids in a digital world. Second of all, not only are people set loose in libraries to figure things out, but the librarians there are trained professionals able to help with the research, which is a perk you don’t always get with Google.

  24. Shiz

    Oh my.

    I’m in for hell one day, aren’t I?

  25. Carol

    I’m 33 and have a difficult time remembering what life was like before the internet. I can’t believe we called ourselves civilized to be honest. You know how we have a hard time imagining nothing but (empahsis on the nothing BUT), oh I don’t know….black and white TV, drive-in movie’s and qualudes and HOW did our parents EVER live so primatively? I shudder at what our kids will think of us in 10 years. I once tried to explain the concept of a record to my son. I gave up about 2 minutes into that conversation.

  26. Elleana

    OH MY GOD!! Every commercial on channels like Nickelodeon has a http://www.—.com to go to. And my kids are constantly yelling, “We need to go there!!” While I applaud the advertisers for their brilliance on their part (sneaky of them, very sneaky) I hate, hate, hate the fact that my kids are so easily won over.

    But, um, I’m not so willing to give up the time that they spend watching a tv show because it means I get to do things like cook, shower, etc…

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