Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Spectators No More

If you're a parent then you've experienced the Nick Jr.  You've contemplated hitting the "drill bit to the temple" button during the Upside Down Show only to abort the plan when noting how much joy it inexplicably brought your child.  You've resisted the urge to jump in to the screen and punch that whinny, annoying little HoHo monkey right in his fuzzy jaw.  You want to get Dino Dan the proffessional help he really needs.  And you've fantasized about setting Dora's map on fire. ... you know you have.  Those of you who aren't parents yet but think you will be some day. ... cancel your cable when the time comes.  If you can avoid discovering what "Oobie" is. ... you are a lucky human being.  Although, for the record. ... I like Bubble Guppies a lot.  I really do.  Anyway, despite my inexplicable experience with just about every show on this channel (I wrote a kids TV article for The Examiner for about 6 months), our kids really don't watch much TV.  Probably about an hour a day, a little in the morning, a little at night.  For the most part it involved them sitting there (more recently on their Elmo potties) looking like Rodin's lesser known sculpture "The Slacker".  Feet spread wide apart, knees angled back in and touching, arms hanging primate like at the side, back hunched, mouth agape, eyes locked in a deadened stare.  Every time Diego or Dora or Kai Lan turned their over sized brown eyes to the viewer and said "help me do this this stupid thing by muttering some annoying phrase with me in Swahili" the girls just stared back, unresponsive - like a penguin at the aquarium who you're trying to make tap dance.  Nothing.  All of a sudden, last night, Diego said something about helping him call a flying squirell by squeaking.  "C'mon, squeek with me!  Squeak, squeak, squeak!  Squeak, squeak, squeak!"  And there it was.  From the right side of the couch.  "Skee, skee, skee!  Skee, skee, skee!"  Arianna was participating.  She was responding.  She was interacting.  Albeit he was squeaking and she sounded like she was demanding a winter sport, it was still suddenly a two lane street.  After that we watched a few minutes of a promo where they said "get up and dance with us!"  And she did.  Right off the couch.  Dancing across the living room like no one was watching (although I'm pretty sure she knew I was because that was the hammiest dance I've ever seen)!  I never thought it would be a big deal when they finally took the cues from these shows and responded.  I thought "dear god if they start talking back to these shows when prompted I'm reaaalllly going to need that cyanide pill"; but I didn't.   Instead, I beamed a little with pride.  It's another step in growing up.  Not just staring mindlessly at something, but receiving the signal and responding with your own.  Don't be fooled, though.   This doesn't mean an increase in TV time.  Sorry Upside Down Show. ... I'm pressing the "middle finger" button on my remote control to you right now.

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