Bell Potty and the PR of childhood




Three months ago, Bell Pottinger announced that it had decided to cease work for parents. We had worked for parents for just over two millennia, following a competitive bid process, to help them prepare children for the trauma of life. We wish to issue a full, unequivocal and absolute apology to the world’s children for making it seem like the world was a great place.

The tooth fairy was a mistake. We realise that now. We’ve placed the idea under review and fired the numbskull who came up with it. Unfortunately, our lawyers informed us you’ll have to pay back the money your parents left on your pillow (came from dad) and that we’re not liable to pay you back because of a loophole in the law. A loophole is something that makes it okay to break the rules.

Further to the tooth fairy, you should know that your teeth are worthless. If anything, you will spend a fortune trying to keep them in your mouth until old age ravages them and you’re back sucking on soft foods like a baby. Life is hard. Get used to it.

Some of you wrote us saying we had supported or aided campaigns by parents to spell out words you weren’t supposed to hear. This was a terrific idea and we’d like to take credit for it. It’s important to note that were it not for this handy trick, you would have been devastated by news that Uncle Joe next door was an asshole (A-S-S-H-O-L-E) and that the cat went to the vet to have its testicles (T-E-S-T-I-C-L-E-S) removed.

While we’re on animals, few dogs go to heaven, if any. The concept of heaven and hell is a lie to force you to go to church and not say words like “asshole”. Your folks don’t know what happens after we die, neither does anyone else.

On to sex. Sex is a magical activity that happens when a man’s penis enters a woman’s vagina. Birds and bees have nothing to do with it, although they also have sex but not with each other.

Your parents had sex all the time. In the bedroom, in the bathroom, on the porch — everywhere. Sex is why you grew in your mom’s stomach before a doctor pulled you out. Doctors deliver babies because they are trained to do so. Storks don’t deliver babies because their beaks are too weak.

Much of what has been alleged about us is not true. But enough of it is to be of deep concern. No child has ever had a tree grow in their stomach after eating apple seeds. Straight As in matric won’t get you far. The president of the world doesn’t know what he’s doing. The world will be in ruins by the time you turn 21.

At Bell Pottinger — a youngish team of people we believe were once children themselves — we are outraged by the words we put in your parents’ mouths. These activities should never have been undertaken. We are deeply sorry this happened.

JS Smit

JS Smit

JS Smit is a Cape Town-based freelance writer. Formally trained as a copywriter, he took a break from ads in 2010 to write a blog for the Mail & Guardian's Thought Leader and since 2015 has written for the Mail & Guardian. Read more from JS Smit

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