Phineas and Ferb in Intern Season

One day I’d like to meet the day with a gradual rise out of slumber, somewhat like the rising sun. During term time the shrill screech of the alarm rockets me out of REM in manner somewhat akin to a bullet leaving an AK47. I thought half-term might be different, but instead of the irritating and suspect vowel sounds of some mutant aging DJ or even worse, Britney Spears’ new single, I am awakened by the sounds either of a tsumani in the bathroom or the horrified screams of a small girl whose bed has just been used as a drop zone.

Small boys are interesting prospect and should never be left with time on their hands. One must never take your eyes off them, or leave your back exposed. In many ways I think parents should complete SAS counter terrorism training. In that split second when your attention is diverted small boys use the time to concoct an elaborate plan usually designed either to turn your home into something resembling Chernobyl or make your life a misery in an astounding diversity of creative brilliance.

I live with Phineas and Ferb. The main reason I am now limiting TV time is to halt the myriad of ideas that swarm through the airwaves and take root in my boys’ brains. These inevitably result in ice down my back, horrible mushy things in my shoes and horror of all horrors – potions. Potions are every mother’s worst nightmare. Thank you Harry Potter, I owe you.

Small boy aged 6: “Mom! Mom! Mom!”
I think this is a direct result of Big Bang Theory – every exhortation for my attention comes in threes.
Small boy aged 9 in stage whisper: “Dude. Dude! I have a whole bag of shush right here with your name on it.”
Thank you Austin Powers for that little gem.

I can deal with this notification of disaster in a variety of ways. Due to my inherent desire to protect my own sanity I usually resort to: “I don’t want to know. Clean it up.”

I have this theory that particularly applies when I am in the bath. This precious 20 minutes of me time, which is all too often interrupted. Unless blood is spurting out of a major artery or a bone is broken leave me the hell alone. If someone is dead, they will still be dead when I emerge and I will be calm enough to deal with it.

Small boy aged 6: “Mom! Mom! Mom!”
Mother: “Yes.”
Small boy aged 6: “You have to come now!”
Mother: “Is someone bleeding?”
Small boy aged 6: “No, but…”
Mother: “Has someone lost an eye or other vital body part?”
Small boy aged 6: “No, but…”
Mother: “Has someone got a vital body part stuck in a piece of moving machinery?”
Small boy aged 6: “No, but…”
Mother: “Is someone actively in the process of dying?”
Small boy aged 6: “No, but…”
Mother: “But then I don’t want to know about it. Make sure you clean it up before your father gets home.”

This solves a lot of complications and keeps me from being isolated in a secure mental facility.

Currently, Small girl aged 5 is struggling with a logistical complication that means that Small boys can climb 8 odd feet high on the rafters and leap onto her bed in a bizarre parody of the Navy Seals. Unfortunately, Small girl aged 5 is small and when she is ensconced under the covers it is fairly hard to tell that she is there. This is why she keeps getting jumped on, much to her brothers’ amusement.

Now add another factor to the mix. What happens when you let the father of your children take two small boys and a small girl to the movies? Answer, someone will come home needing medical attention. This time because the male factors decided to run up the down escalator. Small girl aged 5 didn’t quite make it and lost a chunk of flesh from her leg.

This I could deal with, except that Small girl aged 5 believes the only plasters with the power to heal have Disney Princesses on them. This means I have to get in the car in the freezing cold and visit as many late night pharmacies as it takes to buy said plasters, by which time Small girl aged 5 is incoherent and labouring under the belief that her leg is soon to be amputated.

It is day 3 of half-term and I have cancelled my leave and retreated back to work. It is safe here. No-one will put caterpillars in my tea or throw fire crackers in the bathroom door when I answer the call of nature. I am giving a grandparent the privilege of parenting today.

In the meantime I shall recover my equilibrium by being mean to interns. Intern season is like hunting season. It is enormous fun. It is God’s way of rewarding advertising creatives with an amusing diversion. The process is vital in the Darwinian survival of the fittest that is the creative studio. You see each year about six or seven eager young things arrive at the studio to be indoctrinated into the way of the ad. They’ve spent three hours gelling their hair and choosing suitably creative and mostly inappropriate clothing, before arriving at creative boot camp.

In all their years studying why has no-one taught them how to operate the cappuccino machine? This should be part of the curriculum. After all it is basically all they will be doing for the first year of their existence. Another vital missing link in their studies is how to cut out and glue stuff. My 6 year old is better than most of them. Fundamentally it is our job to divest them of the idea that anyone cares what they think that they know anything and that they are going to be the next David Ogilvy.

Welcome to the real world kids. In the real world deadlines are like the Great Wall of China – immovable. Budgets tell you how much money you can spend on you Big Idea. So, no you cannot have a million dollar Big Idea when the budget is 10 dollars. This is mathematics. I’m sorry, did you say you are going to lunch? Lunch? What the hell is lunch? And when I ask for a full bleed layout I do not mean you should slice open an artery with the paper knife and bleed all over it.

This is a picture of what happens to your average intern on Day 1. See, Darwin.

The team that arrives on Day 1 usually whittles down to about 2 or 3 at the end of the season who have proven they can handle life in a big studio. At my last agency we had a point system. 60 points if you made an intern cry. 30 points if you train them to make you coffee perfectly. -20 points if they opened their mouths except to offer you more coffee. 100 points of they left weeping never to return. Ah, the good old days.

I officially declare intern season open.


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