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Opiates (and Anvils) for the Masses

I am totally That Mom, the one who “utilizes the power of available technologies to placate my child for a short time every day so I can achieve my daily domestication goals.”

Yes, I let my daughter sit in front of the television every day for about half an hour or so while I make dinner and fold wash. Yes, I know that this slowly turns her little developing brain into pudding. I don’t care. Pudding is delicious.

Most parents that I know do this every once in a while. I don’t feel the slightest bit of guilt about this, no matter whether the “experts” say that I should or not. My folks let us watch TV for a little while every day for the same reasons, and as far as I can tell, we all turned out fine — one sister is an OR nurse, one sister is an Ivy-league educated aerospace engineer, and one of us is … me.

OK, we mostly turned out fine.

And it’s not like my kid is watching the cruddy cartoons that we watched when we were younger. We have satellite TV and we get like 500 channels or something, and at least three of them are “retro” cartoon channels that air old Hanna-Barbera shows and stuff of that ilk, and sometimes I catch a few seconds of the old shows and I am like, “Dear God, WHY?” “Wacky Races,” “Captain Caveman,” “Yogi Bear?” Total junk food for the developing mind from a time when all non-PBS children’s shows existed solely to sell branded action figures made by Mattel or Hasbro. “Masters of the Universe,” “G.I. Joe,” “Jem,” who was truly truly truly outrageous?

Let’s just admit it: those shows were terrible. (Although I’ll concede that the music on “Jem” was most excellent and I will get into a parking-lot slap-fight with anybody who tries to say otherwise. BRING IT.)

Cartoons didn’t really start to get good — good, as in “actually entertaining” and “containing actual cultural value” — until I was in high school. Part of that, I think, is that from 1988-1995 or so, when I was in high school and college, network television was pretty much for old people. Seriously, “The Golden Girls” and “Murder, She Wrote” were hit shows at the time. Now, I totally cop to loving me some Dorothy Zbornak and Jessica Fletcher NOW, but back then? There was not a lot of programming on network TV for me.

So when I discovered shows like “Ren & Stimpy,” “The Simpsons,” and “Power Puff Girls,” I clung to them. I’m still not sure who the target audience for those cartoons were. Kids? Their parents? Drunk college students? “Daria” and “The Animaniacs” were my favorites. I can (and do) still quote bits from both series. I miss them terribly. It was nice to feel like someone understood me, cared about what I liked, recognized the issues I faced, and actually acknowledged them by making television shows about them.

The cartoons of the late 1980s and early to mid-1990s helped me hone my sense of humor and introduced me to the concept of snark. And I ate it up.

Much like my daughter does now, with shows like “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Phineas and Ferb.” I actually don’t mind when these cartoons are on in the background — and in fact, if I happen to turn on the TV and “SpongeBob” is on, sometimes I don’t turn it off right away. Yes, these shows can be weird and absurd and maybe she’s a little too young to understand everything that is going on, but then again, there are no scary skeleton men, no crazy unending ongoing battles of good vs. evil, no random violence and anvils falling out of the sky. It’s a good time for my kid to be watching cartoons.

Sure, I miss Wile E. Coyote and his Rube Goldberg machines, sometimes. And “What’s Opera, Doc?” is a classic of western literature. But, you know, she’s a little kid. She doesn’t realize what’s happening, so it’s primarily the bright colors and the crazy voices and the general concept of a platypus super-spy that entertains her right now. That’s cool with me.

Plus: if I get that “Daria” complete series DVD for my birthday like I asked for, we’ll have something to watch together. Besides “The Soup.”

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]


[author_info]About the Author

Rachel Gonzales (aka “rockle”) is a regular Lifestyle contributor. She is the actual child in her profile picture, which was taken in 1976, so it probably goes without saying that mistakes were made. You can read more of her here on Prime Parents Club, or on her blog, rockle-riffic. [/author_info][/author]

I am 4' 11½" tall -- my entire life is short. Also loud and crazy. Prime Parents' Club General Contributor.


  1. Margaret

    April 15, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Before my kids were in school, I gotta tell you, it’s a wonder that their brains didn’t liquefy and pour out of their ears, cuz after a half-hour? Um…yeah, they were just gettin’ started.

    Now? I can’t get them to watch TV. Seriously, sometimes they are so up in my business, I try to get rid of them by saying enthusiastically, “Why don’t you go watch TV!” [as a kid, I would’ve been off like a shot!]

    I’m met with blank stares, and responses like “Nah, I don’t feel like it…” What the…?? I figure it’s my payback for all the stupefying hours I let them spend in front of the box before they turned 5. I used up all their TV time. *sigh*

  2. Jacqueline Wilson

    April 14, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    WAIT.A.MINUTE.Your kid only watches 30 mintues of TV a day?!?

    Yeah, mine, too. Really. She doesn’t go over that. Never. Nope. Nuh uh.

    • rockle

      April 14, 2011 at 10:19 pm

      let’s say “yes” and leave it at that. sometimes it’s a little more than half an hour, and sometimes it is a lazy sunday when we all, collectively, sit on the couch and turn our brains to pudding.

      my brains are tapioca, btw.

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