Did the Big Red Chicken really just turn Boots the monkey into a chicken? Was that Daddy Pig who just fell through the school roof? I think Sophia just saved Enchancia from another evil wizard. Did Max really put bugs into Ruby’s jelly mold? These questions actually fill my head. And these are not real people. These are children’s cartoon characters, and they have taken over my life.
I will admit it: my children watch too much television. It’s just too easy to flip the TV on when I’m busy working, cleaning or preparing dinner. Whether it’s after school or a weekend morning, sometimes I just turn on the TV for the kids and encourage them to watch a cheesy cartoon like Dora the Explorer, Peppa Pig, Sophia the First, Max and Ruby or a whole host of others.
You can criticize me if you want and tell me I am lazy or that my children could engage in a number of other higher quality activities. And sometimes you are right. Sometimes they do. My son could throw a baseball or basketball around the backyard for hours. My older daughter’s bedroom looks like a hurricane of Playmobil passed through. The baby likes to colour, play with her dolls or follow her brother and sister around. They don’t watch TV all the time, but when they do, the sounds of the cartoons permeate throughout the house.
Have you ever noticed that the music of every children’s cartoon is annoyingly catchy and gets stuck in your head? For those of us who were children of the eighties or nineties, are those cartoon themes still in your head? My brother and I loved to watched the weekly line-up of cartoons on Saturday morning. I still sing the Gummi Bears, Smurfs, Muppet Babies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, among others. They get stuck in my head and I can’t get them out.
I think my complete Spanish vocabulary came from watching years of Dora the Explorer with my children. I can count to ten, I know many colours and know how to say let’s go – vamanos! Is that useful? I’m not sure. But I am sure that my two-year-old can count to five (in English) because of Dora. And she gets up and sings and dances with Dora and her friends. So, it can’t be all bad, right?
But the children’s cartoon seems to be everywhere in my life. It’s not just about the actual TV show and it’s annoyingly catchy music. There is the retail side of things. My younger daughter only wants to wear t-shirts that have a picture of Peppa Pig on them. My older daughter is taking a collection of Paw Patrol pillows to camp as somehow a pillow is only cozy if there is a picture of Skye or Chase on it.
And the toys. We couldn’t just get one or two pups from Paw Patrol as my daughter insisted that she could only re-enact a scenario if she had all the dogs. When my son was a toddler he couldn’t get enough of the Thomas the Tank Engine trains and we bought dozens of them – along with tracks. Over the years my home has become a warehouse of toys, clothes and other paraphernalia connected with a cartoon. Don’t even get me started on Frozen.
I have my favrourite TV show, House Hunters, on in the background as I write this afternoon. But soon the children will be home and floor plans and backyards will be replaced by singing monkeys and talking rescue dogs. Cartoon theme songs will jump – and stay – in my head. It will surround me. I’m ready.