By Scott Graves

Pilot staff writer

For their birthdays, most little girls want games, stuffed animals and a pony for their birthdays. Not my daughter.

For her fifth birthday, she wants a Sleep Number Bed.


andquot;I have trouble sleeping at night and it will help me sleep better - like the lady on the TV,andquot; she said.

She was referring to the TV commercials for Sleep Number bed featuring spokeswoman and former bionic woman Lindsay Wagner.

My daughter does not have trouble sleeping. The other day she fell asleep inside a large cardboard box. She crashes regularly on the floor, in the car seat and often performs a contortionist sleep act in the living room armchair.

If anybody needs a Sleep Number Bed it's her parents. But we're not about to plunk down $1,000 for an adjustable bed for ourselves, let alone our little girl.

This, my friends, is the insidious work of the advertising industry.

Most children have no clue that advertising is devised simply to part each and every one of us from our hard-earned cash. Children see the advertisement and immediately andquot;wantandquot; it.

And, I'm sorry to say, that reaction doesn't change when we grow up. I want that high definition, flat screen plasma TV as badly as I wanted that Tonka Truck when I was five.

What does change is our ability to resist the urge to andquot;buy, buy, buy!andquot;

It's a difficult ability to master considering that we, as a society, are constantly bombarded by quick-fix, get-it-now advertisements.

Who doesn't like the idea of getting rich quick, losing 20 pounds in 20 days, and eliminating that unsightly nose hair forever? Why did I spend four-plus years and thousands of dollars for a bachelor's degree when I could have just done it through the mail - and for only three easy payments of $19.99, plus shipping and handling.

As adults, most of us can see the phoniness of these come-ons. But can children? Not a chance.

When my daughter gets excited about a new toy, sugar cereal or stain-remover product promoted by a loud-mouthed TV spokesman, I see a perfect teaching opportunity.

That miracle stain remover loses its appeal after I explain that she will be the one on her hands and knees using it to remove the cranberry juice stains from the carpet.

And she thinks twice about wanting that new toy after I explain buying it will curtail visits to her favorite fast food place.

It's about choices, and thinking them through before making them. It's part of life - from age 1 to 101.

I think I'm getting through to my daughter.

A week after asking for a Sleep Number Bed for her birthday, she said there was something else she wanted: A Betty Crocker cake decorating kit.

She saw it advertised during one of her favorite TV shows. She said, mimicking the salesman's voice perfectly, that the kit andquot;cost just $19.99! But that's not all! Order now and receive 21 attachments absolutely free!andquot;

Well, maybe I'll get her the cake decorating kit, but definitely not the Sleep Number Bed. I've already ordered one for mom and dad.