When Tommy was around four months old, he started flailing around whenever we tried to feed him. Limbs flying everywhere, it began to resemble waterboarding more than a mealtime. I discovered that he calmed down and sat still when the television was on; after all, his favorite things were lights and colors, and the television had plenty of those things. So meals came to be television time for us.
I’m sure a lot of new parents claim they’ll never let their children watch TV. That wasn’t me. I’m an avid fan of movies and television. I’ve even done quite a bit of professional and academic work analyzing, teaching, and writing about television shows. While I know there is a good reason to limit the amount and type of shows children watch, there is also much to learn from them. I just don’t want to watch lame kids’ shows if I don’t have to. After all, I just noticed season two of The Fall, and that is some awesome shit.
Eventually, I begin to wonder whether I’m giving my son irreparable psychological or behavioral problems by watching shows about serial rapist/murderers and shows with flashy action sequences. Thus begins my exploration of Netflix Kids. Sigh.
Maybe if we could just watch my shows with the volume turned down a bit? Still pretty flashy and murdery. How about maybe rationing how much television we watch? Well, this kiddo won’t sit still while he’s eating, and really, who am I kidding? Okay, so the quest is on to find a kids’ show that I can tolerate.
I start with Curious George, but he’s fairly terrible. The adults on that show have entirely unreasonable expectations for a monkey—seriously, they keep letting him go out in the city on his own and expect him to be able to handle transactions—and they seem to be perpetuating his bad behavior. What does the man in the yellow hat even do to have that NYC apartment and a country house? Nope. Just no.
After another few shows that I hate, I discover Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and am intrigued. This is a spinoff of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, which I actually only have the vaguest recollection of from my own childhood. In any case, it isn’t too annoying. At first, anyways.
The following angry, or at least mean-spirited, thoughts will go through your head as you watch Daniel Tiger:
- I’m never going to get that damn theme song out of my head. Ever. And that one part, where Daniel repeats the “Ride Alo-ong,” really grates on me for some reason.
- Why aren’t Daniel and his dad wearing pants? His mom wears pants. They wear pajama pants. Are they exhibitionists? Or should we assume they don’t have genitals in the expected place?
- Katerina is kind of a demanding bitch. Stop saying “meow-meow.” Stop it!
- Soooo, is the treehouse like the apartment building where the single parents/guardians have to live? Or are Katerina’s mom and O’s uncle married? And what happened to O’s parents? They died, didn’t they?
- Prince Wednesday, dude, you can’t just royally command things. The laws of nature don’t recognize your authority over the rain, especially because you have no authority at all. Also, with the rock collection, I keep yelling, “They’re minerals, Marie!”
- Can we all just agree that nobody should call anybody “toots” anymore? Even if you do have the cool musician dad. Maybe especially then.
- I’m never going to be able to pee again without thinking, “flush and wash and be on your way.” Thanks for that.
I haven’t seen a single episode of Girls this season. Or the new season of House of Cards. I still haven’t finished my Drop Dead Diva retrospective. And what about all the current TV shows I’m missing out on? It’s like all my friends are hanging out without me. I guess I’ll just be over here with the preschoolers. Singing as I pee. No, really, I have intelligent ideas about things.
This is actually a pretty great show. You know, for teaching stuff to my kid instead of giving him ADD. It promotes kindness, problem-solving, and healthy habits. Those repeated, really simple musical numbers will probably come in really handy when I’m trying to teach my kid a lesson. And I like that sometimes the adults make the kids figure stuff out on their own, like figuring out how to play together.
I’m now officially the kind of person who has an opinion about PBS children’s programming. I think this makes me feel old. Eh. I can deal. We figured out mealtime a while ago, but now when Tommy wakes up from a nap completely inconsolable for absolutely no reason, Daniel is the only thing to make him stop screaming. I’ll take it.
Now to figure out other decent shows so that I don’t cycle through the same 40 episodes continually for the next 5 years. What are your favorites?