I’m thankful school has started for a lot of reasons, including that the boys are watching several hours less of the Cartoon Network. They began watching it early on in the summer with an intensity and commitment that I can only describe as impressive. Unfortunately, the programming on the Cartoon Network isn’t.
Their fascination started with shows like “Ninjago” and “Legends of Chima,” which are both okay in that there are no fart jokes, no one says “stupid,” and no one has a talking mouth and tongue hanging from their belly. Next, they started watching shows like “Annoying Orange” and “The Amazing World of Gumball,” and I honestly can’t think of a single redeeming quality about either of them.
Then came “Tom and Jerry.” On the one hand, it’s brilliant choreography under a backdrop of classical music. And, oh how it makes them giggle! On the other hand, there are guns and explosives, excessive violence, sporadic bits of racism and misogyny (from another time, but still…), and, oh yeah, occasionally Tom smokes cigarettes. Cigarettes! (This explains a lot, by the way.)
Recently, Riley stomped into my bedroom and ordered me to wrap him up in paper towels. I said, “I don’t think so,” to which he replied, “If you don’t do it, I will throw a pie at you.” Thanks a million, Tom and Jerry. As if this parenting gig weren’t hard enough.
It’s not just that the content of Cartoon Network programming is questionable sometimes and vulgar almost all of the time (have you seen “Uncle Grandpa”?), but also there are commercials.
So. Many. Commercials.
I don’t know about your kids, buy mine want every piece of crapola the Cartoon Network sells them, and they want it RIGHT NOW! Case in point, Ice Cream Magic. The commercial touts, “Now, you can make delicious homemade ice cream in three minutes!” I doubt it! Go ahead and tell me I’m no fun. Tell me I’m a Grinch. Tell me I’ve forgotten what it means to be a kid and to believe with all my heart that shaking a plastic container filled with ice, salt, cream, and chocolate for three minutes will make ice cream. (It. Won’t.) I’m tempted to buy it just to teach them a lesson.
The commercial dilemma goes far beyond the nagging for junk, Build-A-Bear, and sugary breakfast cereals. On a recent trip to the grocery store, Dylan and Riley pointed to a display of Finish dishwasher detergent tabs and said in unison, “Can we get this? Please, can we get this? Please?!” They displayed as much enthusiasm in aisle 10 at Publix as they do in the Lego aisle at Toys R Us. “Mom, you have to get this,” Dylan said (with a very serious face). “There’s power gel inside.”
Dear God, my children think dishwasher detergent is a toy, and apparently the Cartoon Network thinks parents are watching “Teen Titans Go!” alongside their children.
Dear Cartoon Network,
I promise you, we’re not.
The Runaway Mama
A few days after the detergent incident, Dylan yelled from the family room, “Mom, you have to see this. Come quick! Hurry! HURRY! HURRY!!” When I arrived, he pointed to the television said dramatically, “Fast just got faster.” It was a Comcast commercial. Similarly, Riley beckoned for me and said, “Nothing will get in your way, Mommy. Nothing.” And then, “Can I get those?” He was watching a commercial for men’s Reebok ATV 19 sneakers.
Rock bottom came when Dylan got a nasty cut on his finger. It was a real doozy. You know, the kind with a lot of blood, a little bit of panic, and a debate over whether or not to go to the emergency room. Once we stopped the bleeding (thank goodness), I ran to the bathroom to get bandages. When I returned, he looked at the box with trepidation and asked, “Are they the Band-Aid brand?”
Holy smokes. As much as I DON’T miss “Dora The Explorer,” “Yo Gabba Gabba,” and “Max & Ruby” on Nick Jr., I sure do miss the civility of it all and the commercial-free entertainment. I hope (pray?) the commercial mania dies down soon, but in the meantime, if either of the kids jump up and down over dish soap or the quicker picker upper at the grocery store, I’m going to break.