Friday, January 23, 2009

Familiarity breeds contempt....

Ask any parent about the shows their kids love to watch and you're bound to get at least one utterance of, "I don't know why kids love that show. It drives me crazy!" And some parents have declared certain kid's shows as unwelcome.

Barney has always been persona non grata in our home. He is avoided at all costs, along with the Teletubbies. No Barney toys or Teletubby sheets pass through our doors. My kids don't have clothing featuring Baby Bop or Dipsy. But I've begun to notice that some other shows are wearing out their former welcome. These shows used to be tolerable, but repeated doses have revealed fatal flaws.

And so I give you, kids' shows I love to hate...

1. Caillou - As fans of the Goodnight Show on Sprout, we were a bit upset when they changed the programs used in this block. They dropped the very well done Jakers! and Sagwa in favor of a very, very, vveeeerrrryyy long blockof Caillou. Caillou is a bratty little boy who seems to alternate between being very simplistic and throwing tantrums. But everything works out for Caillou in the end. And isn't that the lesson we want to teach toddlers?

2. Angelina Ballerina - I was a bit puzzled that Angelina was included in a programming block meant for toddlers, as she seems better targeted to school-age kids. But then I was puzzled what all the fuss was anyway. Little girls have been obsessed with Angelina since her debut. As a parent though, I find Angelina selfish and, again, bratty. Every situation revolves around Angelina and how she thinks it affects her. Many, many episodes feature at least one scene where Angelina declares, "It's not fair!" before she eventually bursts into tears. She also seems to get into a lot of trouble, and though her parents are featured, they almost never address the issue. Parenting through denial: why not?

3. Dora, Diego, and almost every tween show - YOU KNOW HOW TYPING IN ALL CAPS IS CONSIDERED SHOUTING AND KINDA RUDE? A few minutes spent watching Dora, Diego, or *insert name of trendy tween show here* and you'll wonder if the whole script is typed in ALL CAPS! Subtlety seems to be lost on most of these shows. Why be subtle when you can shout? And the parents are mostly absent. Dora and Diego are little kids who are allowed to wander through the wilderness accompanied by animals. Repetition is a proven educational strategy, but Dora and Diego take it to extremes. Few programs are so successful at making me wish for sharp objects to plunge into my ears. And all tweeners need to SHOUT! Because everything IS A BIG DEAL! YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND!

4. Tween shows (again) - Stereotype much? If so, you would love most tween programming. Aside from the shouting, tweeners are taught valuable lessons: the really smart girls are nerdy and wear glasses, cool girls are mean, boys are dogs and playa-wannabes, athletes are dumb, band kids are geeky, parents are clueless, siblings are torture, teachers are just plain stupid, and if your parents really loved you they would buy you designer clothes and give you a huge bedroom. Are some of these things occasionally true? Sure, but not always. And why doesn't any show want to change up some of these over-played elements? Do I want my daughter to believe that if she is really smart, ugly glasses and nerdom must follow? Do I want to encourage smart-mouthed responses to all parental inquiries? What do you think? (Sorry, I couldn't resist that last one... blame Zoey 101.)

5. Max and Ruby - Or as I like to call it Simpleton and Shrew. Max is young, but he cannot ever conjure more than a one word response. And the audience is supposed to find him quite clever. Ruby is his domineering big sister. He may be simple, but she is dense. She never seems to catch on to his meaning/wishes/intent/whatever, and she cannot conceive of ever being wrong. And again, while you do sometimes see Grandma, you never, ever see parents. Ever. Nor do the kids ever mention them. For the ages implied for these characters (I'd guess Max is 3 or 4 and Ruby is 8 or 9), their behavior is wholly inappropriate. But I do begin to see how their folks might have cracked under the strain and ran away from home.

This is by no means a complete list, but you get the idea. I just think it's sad that some really great kids' programming gets overshadowed by such flawed shows.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Welcome 2009

Some highlights of our Christmas season...

*When Santa asked her what she wanted him to bring her for Christmas, Sister Goldenhair replied, "Bacon and toys!" She got her wish. Uncle Roddy and Aunt Beth gave her two packages of pre-cooked bacon. SG was very happy. She does however attribute the bacon to Santa (or perhaps to his influence). "Santa brought me bacon... and toys!"

*Though Miss B asked Santa for a plasma tv, cell phone, laptop, and Nintendo DS. She was however well pleased by the soccer ball, watercolor paints, Titanic book, and Razor fold-up scooter Santa opted to leave instead. Her words: "It's funny how Santa knows what I really wanted, even though I never asked for it." Yes, my dear, that is funny. But I assured her that Santa was a hardworking fellow who payed attention to details.

*While SG's first real visit to Santa was somewhat catastrophic, this year she was in love. She is a shy little girl when among strangers, but apparently Santa is a stranger no more. Our visit with Santa at the local mall found her snuggling into his side as if they were old friends (and this was before she knew she was getting candy from him too!). It was very sweet to watch.

*Miss B partied 2008 away with her cousin Jacob at my bother's house. Originally plans called for her to be with me and SG (while Woody went to a party at a coworker's house), but Jake and "Rock Band" beckoned. She had to decide whether to stay with me or go. She was reduced to tears at the thought of her poor mother being lonely. I assured her that I did have SG after all, so I would be fine. It turns out SG was out by 8:45pm. The night was a bit long and boring then. Oh well, Miss B promises to spend next new year's eve with me, just to be fair. :) She's so sweet.

The girls had a lovely holiday, and so did I. My favorite part was spending time away from work and with family. And I was up late everynight finishing some sewing projects. Finally finishing everything was such a relief! It's so satisfying to give a present that you really worked hard on. It's even better when the recipient appreciates the work of something homemade (and they all did!). I hope to get some pictures of what I made posted, but I forgot to take them before I gave the gifts away... as usual.