The truth is dirtier than I first led you to believe.
A couple days ago I shared a Turkish television commercial about the virtues of dirt. A comment from Nancy Riffer made me realize that, while trying not to offend my readers who have Turkish moms themselves, I omitted some important keys to really understanding the commercial.
That beautiful commercial is full of irony which is not lost on Turkish viewers. The kids in that ad do the things that normal kids only dream of. A Turkish city child's life is full of structure, straight lines, and spotless clothes, which makes life easier for moms, but not for kids.
The truth is, kids are normally not allowed to play in the mud. Or
in the water, or on the grass, and certainly not in the rain. Elementary schools have plain, paved
play areas; the lucky ones have portable soccer goals and basketball hoops. No swings,
seesaws, slides, or other dangerous devices. I believe this overprotection and hyper-cleanliness is related to what I've seen as an avoidance of experimental, improvisational and mistake-based learning. We're a long way from the mud-based learning of my childhood.
Omo has a few more gritty commercials that show a clean, well dressed little boy who encounters other kids in the park, but doesn't know how to play with them. You can watch them here and here. The marbles ad ends with the statement: "Only 28% of children spend time playing outside or on playgrounds." The hide and seek ad ends with "Only 17% of mothers give their children permission to play outside." Both ads end with, "Every child has the right to be a child."
These ads point to another website by Omo, with a URL that means "every child's right" in Turkish. That website has suggestions for giving children freedom to develop, games to play, and an advice column for worried moms. One of their main pieces of advice is, "give your kids some free time."
But let's not leave things there. There is one more commercial which is my personal favorite. You don't need to understand the words, but at the end the narrator says, "Sports takes bravery -- just like life." Here's the link if you can't see the embedded video.
One last thing: if you're reading this via email, you probably can't see the videos. You'll have to go to my blog (just click here).
Ve Türkçe bilenler --bu siteden hoşlanacağınıza eminim; Her çocuğun hakkı.