Bud loves a good underwriting announcement. In fact, his fondness for underwriting announcements is one of the things that prevents us from exposing him to any commercial television at all, lest our days become filled with catchy jingles and advertising copy. It doesn't bother Bud, though - he's perfectly happy with the underwriting announcements he's adopted from PBS Kids.
One of his favorite activities these days is walking through the house, happily gathering videos, books and CDs from PBS shows, then lining them up and moving down the row, announcing each in turn:
"Clifford the Big Red Dog is sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of Education..."
"Curious George is brought to you today by Shea Homes, Caring since 1881..."
"Funding for Arthur was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting..."
"Between the Lions was made possible by a Ready to Learn Grant..."
He's got a million of 'em.
I've just discovered that he plays a similar game on the computer, where he can now do underwriting announcements for shows he doesn't watch or shows that are not carried by our local PBS affiliate. He goes to the PBS Kids website, clicks onto the show's individual page, then scrolls to the bottom to look for logos. Now that he can read, he's able to improvise and create underwriting announcements of his own:
"Major funding for Cyberchase is provided by the National Science Foundation..."
"Fetch with Ruff Ruffman is sponsored in part by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations..."
And, of course, every single one of his underwriting announcements ends the same way:
"And by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you."
Until a few days ago, I was not aware of Bud's high-tech computerized version of the underwriting game, so I was confused when he jumped up from the row of videos he'd been announcing on the floor and ran over to the kitchen table, where my husband and I were finishing breakfast.
"Mama," he said. "I want to do my contributions to my PBS stations."
"Yes, I know, Bud," I said. "You're doing them. And you're doing a great job."
"No," he said emphatically. "I want to do my contriBUtions to my PBS STAtions!"
"I don't understand, Bud," I said.
"I want to DO. MY. CONTRIBUTIONS. To my PBS STATIONS!"
I wondered if my son was suddenly becoming philanthropic, so I asked tentatively, "You want to make a contribution to your PBS station?"
"YES!" he replied, relieved that I was finally getting it.
"Do you know what a contribution is, Bud?" I asked.
"What?" he replied.
"It means you give money to PBS so they can make the shows you like to watch."
"You want to give your money to PBS so they can make the shows you like to watch?"
"Okay," I said, "Then you need to go upstairs and get your tooth fairy money, and we'll say 'Here, PBS Kids, you can have my tooth fairy money to make the shows I like to watch.' Okay?"
"NO!" Bud shrieked, clearly aghast at the suggestion that he'd fork over the money he's been saving to buy the Teletubbies DVD due to be released on May 1st.
My husband lowered his newspaper and looked across the table at us.
"Unfortunately, son," he said, "I'm afraid most of the country feels the same way about it."