Posted by: laughs4dads | December 29, 2010

TV Confessional, Part II

In my last post, I talked about my daughter’s TV viewing habits when she was a baby.

As she grew a bit older, those habits changed. She became suddenly enamored with “Sesame Street” in a big way.  For one hour in the morning, and two in the afternoon (we got three or four public television stations with cable, and my wife, Barbara, quickly learned when they all broadcast “Sesame Street”), Casey was engrossed in the adventures of Kermit and friends. 

Not only did Barbara get three full peaceful hours during the day (not including afternoon naptime), but Casey actually learned stuff.  She was the first among her friends, even her older friends, to count (although she had this annoying habit of starting with four so that all her totals were somewhat inflated).  And she became virtually addicted to the alphabet.  Imagine, an 18 month old kid singing both verses of “The Alphabet Song.”

Repeatedly.

Often, a dozen or more times an hour.

And very off-key.

She also learned to say “Bert” and “Ernie” frighteningly close to the time she learned to say “Mommy” and “Daddy.”

Of course, she also had her own videotape library (this was in the pre-digital age, remember) containing “Sesame Street” episodes that Barbara had recorded as well as “Big Bird’s Bedtime Stories” and other tapes that we purchased.

The problem with “Sesame Street” was that, if Barbara or I happened to be in the room when Henson’s gang was on the air, we sort of couldn’t help watching it.  I soon had favorite characters (I liked Grover and Elmo, but I hated Bob because he was a wimp and I detested Big Bird’s singsong voice) and I even once asked Barb to tape the big wedding between Maria and Louis.  Worse, sometimes when I came home from work, Barb would tell me about the segments she really enjoyed in that day’s episodes (I remember she loved one particularly profound satire involving a character named Meryl Sheep).

Also, even back then, the merchandising was getting out of hand.  Virtually everything in our house, from the “Sesame Street” picnic table, to the Big Bird piano, to the Bert, Ernie, Oscar and Grover hand puppets, to the dozen or so “Sesame Street” books to our actual adult furniture (some of which had become decorated with Cookie Monster stickers) had some sort of character identification.  And Casey’s artistically-inclined Aunt Gwen painted a mural for Casey’s bedroom wall depicting Big Bird, Oscar, et al in a train.

And then Casey discovered Mickey Mouse.

We were going to go to Disney World, so we thought it was a brilliant idea to buy a few Mickey Mouse videos to get her used to the characters.  This worked beyond our imagination, and certainly beyond our desires.

Casey began asking constantly for “Mouse TV,” and we’d have to put on a tape of cartoons from the forties and fifties.  These cartoons, with their full animation, were a joy even for Barb and me to watch.  Once.  Even twice.  However, they began to lose something on the 59th or 60th viewing (especially after we learned to identify the approximate dates of production by whether or not Mickey’s eyes had pupils).  But at least you can’t say we didn’t expose our daughter to the classics.

Eventually, Casey became addicted to that marketing machine called Nickelodeon, which, it seemed to me, made four or five episodes of every show back in 1988 and was still running those same five episodes well into the 90s.

In conclusion, let me say that there is one thing I am eternally grateful for: by the time “Barney” came along, Casey was no longer in the age group for which that show is intended.

I may have had to yank the cable.

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