A second view of the Watchbird would be drawn facing the young reader. The heading would read, "This is the Watchbird watching YOU1" Pediatric ethics 101 from the lips of The Ladies Home Journal. But what was most interesting was that naughty activity provided the young reader a certain vicarious pleasure. The Watchbird was a simple line drawn, fat little cartoon bird, peering at an offender and then at me, the implied offender. I can remember hurrying to find the cartoon every month to see the bad boys.
The assumption that we all bore close scrutiny at six or eight for our little secrets was never really challenged in those days. My mother told me she occasionally spanked me with the hairbrush for no definable reason other than the gut feeling I deserved it. She was probably right. She was a stay at home mum and probably knew far more than the Watchbird. I don't think the cartoon had any lasting ethical benefit because even then, naughty was far more interesting to watch than goody-two shoes. I guess it wasn't the enlightened child raising we see today, but there was never the feeling that I was shortchanged in the love game.
My mother subsequently had three further boys and the hairbrush retired. The Watchbird disappeared. Ideas changed. Parents relaxed. I didn't get any useful ideas from the Ladies Home Journal but, things carry on and we are still under scrutiny today by Watchbirds called Media. Stingy, naughty, sneaky and whiny, are still around and in current play.