It’s a painful lesson that Jellybean was bound to learn sooner or later, but heartbreaking how she refuses to give up on so simple a dream, refusing to accept reality even as it plays out right before her eyes and on her feet with each and every step.
“I keep stompin’ but nothing happens,” she says, jumping off the couch with all her might. “Nothing … see … nothing?”
But she keeps on stompin’. And yet no matter how much she jumps or how high she climbs only to come crashing down to the floor, those eyes won’t lift so much as a lid. It’s sad when a child realizes that there’s no truth in advertising; that when something looks awesome on TV, it’s apt to turn into a steaming pile of poo when you get it home.
They’re called Stompeez — “Slippers with personality,” according to the commercial — and sewn with fraudulence, I’d like to add.
These things are undoubtedly familiar to any parent forced to watch endless hours of Nickelodeon programming ranging from “The Backyardigans” and “SpongeBob SquarePants” to “Victorious” and “Drake and Josh.” These glorified bedroom slippers have the faces of creatures both real and mythological — puppies and kittens, monsters, unicorns, bunnies and alligators.
With each supposed step, something pops up: eyes, ears, paws, jaws. And if the image isn’t engrossing enough, all of us in the know have caught ourselves walking around the house singing, “Stomp. Stomp. Stompeez!”
Jellybean has been obsessed with Stompeez for the past year, begging for a pair, giving me the “I promise, promise, promise that I’ll wear them all the time … like every day.” And I’ve gotta admit, they looked cute and fun. Heck, I wanted the one-eyed monster pair, but Jellybean had her heart set on the unicorns.
And they’re perfect for her — all purple and pink and fluffy — being the fashion plate she is, they would perfectly complement her nighttime attire as she normally dresses down for bed. She saves the glitter and fuzzy tiara for school and going to the park.
So when her birthday rolled around, I gave in. But I’m no sucker. I checked ‘em out. Still … they’re slippers, what could go wrong?
Yeah, they don’t work. Stompeez are just regular, old bedroom slippers for all their fancy promises. Yes, I know they’re called “Stompeez” for a reason, implying one must indeed stomp in order to receive the desired effect. So I put those suckers on and stalked around the house like Gene Simmons in his demon boots during the KISS reunion tour … nothing.
“Are they broken?” Jellybean asked before sliding her tiny foot inside. “Why don’t they work?”
That was when I had to sit down and explain to Jellybean something that all children must eventually face — the TV lies. It makes stuff look way cooler than it really is. Then I told her a story from my own childhood.
It was called the Tyco Super Cliffhanger, an electric race car track — complete with two Corvettes — and it was the most rad race track ever. Cars would actually climb UP the walls … at least according to the commercial. In truth, when they hit that 90-degree turn, they fell right to the ground.
With a tear in my eye over reliving my own childhood disappointments, Jellybean looked down to her unicorn Stompeez. “Well, they’re still pretty even if they don’t work.”
And she stomped off, still looking down at her feet and hoping.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.