Sally would watch TV 24/7 if I let her. She loves it and I’m ashamed to say that, like the love handles she’ll probably have in 28 years, she inherited this love from her father and me. While I’m fairly certain that managing her addiction is only slightly less challenging than keeping Jeff Conaway sober, that doesn’t mean I can throw in the towel. So I try, sometimes unsuccessfully, to keep her viewing to a minimum and I only let her watch shows that are educational or at least suited for kids. (…That’s what I’m supposed to say, right?)
Problem is, a show that is good for young children is typically enough to drive an adult to domestic terrorism. The one–seriously, ONE–exception is Sesame Street, to which I will donate every penny of the $27 in my estate when I die.
But then there are other freaks of nature shows, like Caillou (Kye-yoo), one of Sally’s favorites. Caillou is a bald 4-year-old. If that isn’t strange enough, he’s Canadian. He has decent morals, which is the one thing keeping me from reaching into the set and strangling him with a primary-colored jump rope, but I have nightmares where everyone I know has his laugh, which sounds a lot like a drunk crow watching Seinfeld.
Sally’s other great love is Olivia, about a sassy, 6-year-old pig. I admire her ‘tude. My biggest problem with Olivia is her inane theme song, which has been stuck in my head for about four months. Curious George, however, ranks high on my list of animals to put out of their misery. The poor monkey was ripped from the jungle to live with the Man with the Yellow Hat. And we’re supposed to believe that George is happy — indeed, happier — to be living in an apartment with a nerdy scientist who has George make him breakfast in the morning. Not to mention Sally speaks in monkey for at least 30 minutes after the program.
Flawed though these shows may be, they don’t hold a candle to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, a catastrophic collision of CG animation and sexually frustrated Disney characters for whom real-world physics only occasionally apply. Mickey and team spend their 30 minutes solving various problems and mysteries with . . . let’s say “creative” tools. If a child were to take Clubhouse law as gospel, she’d start using giant candy canes to help her cat out of a tree; use a toy thermometer to test real hot bath water; and leave for college armed with the knowledge that if the moon is blocking your path to another planet, you can give it a pacifier so it will roll over for you. Really. Banging my head against the wall feels remarkably good after watching this.
Sally has acquired some funny quotes from these shows and a few have even provided some teachable moments (suction-cup shoes don’t really work). So I suppose they’re not all bad. For her, at least. For me? I’m a little bit crazier, thanks to these programs, and George’s worm race experience doesn’t make for the best water cooler conversation.
What about Barney? (You know you were thinking it.) I have flung my body off the couch, across the room, onto the remote–bruising ribs–to shut off the tube before Sally can figure out what that purple mind-eater is. I mean seriously, I’m not going to knowingly write my ticket to the funny farm, even if it would give me a few more minutes to work on this blog.