Sunday, November 3, 2013

In Which I Attempt to Talk About Kids TV Without Making Other Parents Feel Judged

There are some shows I never let my kid watch. Not because I think television is terrible. I don't, although I think it does get used as a parent replacement much too often (I see the results in my classroom - it's not a good thing, trust me). However, some shows are just the worst.

Here are 7 that will never get any airtime at my house:

1. Caillou - that whiny little kid is infuriating (seriously, even getting that link forced me to listen to him say "We could look for dinosaur fossils" and made me so mad!). No way I want to have to listen to him in the background, let alone allow him to influence my sweetheart of a kid think that's an ok way to behave. There's a whole army of parents on the internet who like to fight about this one, but for me, it's mostly about how I just want to throw things at him.

2. Martha Speaks - I don't know why, but she creeps me out. I always feel like she's just pretending to be nice, like that old lady next door in horror movies who lures you in with cookies and then eats your eyeballs. (Is that a real horror movie thing, or did I make that up? I wouldn't know, cause of how I'm a wuss and hardly ever watch scary movies)

3. Teletubbies - I swear, this is one giant infomercial for drugs. Smoke some pot, hallucinate a little, relax and giggle with a baby. Nope.

4. Yo Gabba Gabba - Those songs get stuck in my head. And then they torture me. Also this show is like baby crack. They love it, but it's frenetic and makes me feel like I've just downed three Red Bulls. Do Not Want.

5. Veggie Tales - I know, they have awesome morals and decent storylines and kids love them, but THEY HAVE NO ARMS. And yet they hold things! If there's evil magic out there in the world, I think there's a good chance it was used to make that darn pickle. Also, I want my kid to eat vegetables, not make friends with them.

6. Barney and Friends - My little brother watched this one non-stop when he was a kid. I still feel bad for those poor children who had to act so excited about cleaning up and loving each other. Have you ever really looked at their faces? Those are smiles of pain, not joy, just like the faces of parents everywhere who have to watch this with their kids.

7. Chuggington - Bratty trains who have to have everything explained for them. I watched one episode of this, about painting with some weird contraption and giving up after making a mistake and then being coddled and coaxed into trying again, and I don't think I've ever yelled at the TV more (ok, that's a lie...I yell at sports and Supernatural and Once Upon A Time and dumb politicians...but aside from that, this wins). And me yelling at the TV does not accomplish my goal of "calm kid learning things so I can sit down for 20 minutes and write", so Chuggington is out.

And now, the good stuff. I like these shows, and I'll watch them with my kid sometimes. They're not perfect, but he likes them, and I don't throw things when they're on, so everyone wins!

1. Dinosaur Train - Ok, so this is probably the weakest one of all these. It makes no sense - how did the Tyrannosaurus end up in the Pteranodon nest? Did the mom cheat on the dad? Did someone steal the egg and drop it off? How is it possible for dinosaurs to invent trains? The train can time travel to different eras but they can't use it to keep from going extinct? And they sing rockabilly music with an Elvis impersonator? So many questions, so few answers. But the learning part is solid, and the kids are mostly well behaved, and both parents are involved and actively parenting. Plus, my kiddo is obsessed with both Dinosaurs and Trains, so there's really no escaping it.

2. Shining Time Station/Thomas the Tank Engine - Classic. Trains trying to do good things, working hard, not too frenetic, and reminds me of hanging out with my cousins, many of whom were so into Thomas and his buddies. Plus, Ringo Starr and George Carlin as Mr. Conductor (or DaDucator, as my kiddo calls him). The guys in the jukebox are creepy in the best ways. Love it.

3. The Magic School Bus - Ms. Frizzle is my alter-ego, so the fact that my kiddo loves "Skoobussh" is awesome. And really, what's not to like - lots of learning, establishing that school can be fun, and Lily Tomlin as the most enthusiastic, figure-it-out-yourself teacher. Sometimes I'll come home and even Ross will be telling me about something cool he learned from the episode they watched. The field trip through the digestive system is the best known episode, but there's so much more. AND! The kids pretty much all grow up to be part of Captain Planet's team of earth defenders - check out an episode of each if you don't believe me!

4. Sesame Street - The original best kid's show ever. So much learning! Seriously. One day I asked Emmett to count to 5, and it was the usual "hold up my fingers and count all singsong" deal (without the number 4, because he refuses to acknowledge that 4 is a number) but then he kept going! He counted to 8 without my help (I know, you can count to 8 by yourself too, but you're older than two, or you're a if you are reading this and under two, you're a genius). Ross and I were stunned - where did he learn that? And then! He kept going! All the way to Eleven! Any kids show that gives me the opportunity to make a Spinal Tap reference wins all the points. Plus - they have special episodes available online to help kids deal with the tough stuff - divorce, incarcerated parents, hunger...seriously good work.

5. Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood - A Mr. Roger's Neighborhood spinoff/sequel. It's not as good as Mr. Rogers, but what is. The downside: those repetitive little songs are kind of annoying. The upside: My kiddo now greets me with "Hiya Toots" which is hilarious, and probably inappropriate, but I love the show in spite of it (or maybe because of it!)

6. The Muppet Show - My childhood favorite. Jim Henson's best idea. We have to watch this one on DVD because it's not on Netflix. Boo Netflix, get it together and get this one and the next two available already! I want to sing along and light the lights! Also, all the Muppet movies are allowed. There is no better version of The Christmas Carol than the Muppet version.

7. Fraggle Rock - Personally, Mokey is my favorite. I'm pretty sure that's because she's the one who's most like me. My sister is definitely Red, and Ross is Uncle Traveling Matt. This show also has the best theme song of almost any show ever.

8. Eureeka's Castle - Probably the hardest one to find anywhere, and also one of the kookiest things I've ever seen on kid's tv. Weird dungeon creatures obsessed with peanut butter, a dragon, a witch, singing fountain sculptures...But that makes sense, since it was R.L. Stine's attempt to imitate Jim Henson!

9. Curious George - Yeah, he's often naughty, but never intentionally. Also I don't get why no one ever calls the Man in the Yellow Hat on his stupid outfit. But, it's a sweet good-natured show, William H Macy narrates it, and the movies have good soundtracks, so I'm in.

So there you go - a huge list of kid's tv shows. What shows do you like?

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