My kids probably watch more TV than they should. And I used to feel guilty about that but now I’ve reached the point where I'm okay with it. Due to our opposite shifts my husband and I are virtually single parents and if it takes an hour of Diego to get dishes done and dinner on the table then bring on that annoying little South American animal rescuer!
We are persistent though in making sure that our kids watch appropriate programs for their age and hence we take in a lot of Nick Jr. in my house. Now if you’ve ever watched Nick Jr. you’ll have noticed, along with earthworms that are able to morph into parallelograms, that they preface each episode by telling you what your preschooler is getting out of the experience. For example, right before Blue’s Clues the announcement states that, "This program increases your preschoolers’ metacognition." I’m not ashamed to say that I had to look up metacognition just to see what it was. Other shows such as The Wonder Pets are touted as being able to; increase my child’s "phonological awareness".
Now at first I found it utterly ridiculous that they were trying to build up these programs as highly educational by prefacing them with these grandiose descriptions of the skills they teach. Phonological awareness is simply listening to something and figuring out where and what it is. And I was going to do what I’m sure was to be a fabulously funny piece on how my cat increases my phonological awareness on a weekly basis by puking at 5 a.m. causing me to lay in bed and try to gauge where she is retching so that I don’t step in it later.
However, after giving it some thought, and after my 4 yr. old informed me that Jupiter is a gas planet and that Llamas can pull 5 times their weight and have padded hooves, I started to realize that maybe there is something to that after all. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s a little silly to make these cartoons sound like college degrees put to animation, however they are certainly a hell of a lot more educational than any cartoon I ever watched as a kid.
What mind widening gems of knowledge did I get from Scooby Doo? That you can manipulate idiots to do ridiculous and dangerous things if you have the right motivation (Scooby snacks). That the smart girl is always a little chubby and wears glasses? That it’s possible to be a criminal mastermind with the use of a rubber mask and a sound effects machine?
How about the Smurfs? What life lessons did I take away from that? That men are truly running the world and the only way you can get noticed, as a woman is to be blonde, and flirtatious? You have to admit that whole Smurfette situation was just weird. One woman to all those men – how did that work?? And talk about stereotypes – Maybe Handy Smurf was a fantastic operatic singer – did he get to pursue anything other than building? No he didn’t. He was pigeonholed! They all were.
So I say bring on the cartoons. Their little shriveled legs might be too weak from lack of use but at least they’ll know everything there is to know about Chinchillas and that’s a useful skill right? Right? I’m sure the exotic pet trade is extremely lucrative.