Thursday, August 29, 2013
Everybody I Know Hates Caillou
I never thought I would write about children's programming. I once made some comments on another stay at home Dad's blog about how I thought his review (which I later found was very tongue in cheek) of The Giving Tree was "asinine," that got me into some heated back and forth with the writer and which is why I still contend that I don't make bajillions of dollars through my site and have eighteen homes throughout the world with a few acres bought up on Mars just in case. Though that may be more due to the fact that I can't get more than 8 people to follow me. But back to my point, everybody I know hates Caillou.
If you have to ask "who is Caillou?" Then you either don't have kids or or your kids don't watch TV and have no friends, because Caillou is like a disease. A whiny, self-centered, overly sensitive chatterbox of a disease. Actually Caillou is a cartoon on PBS. But let your kids watch a few episodes and see if you don't notice your children pulling the same stunts that prematurely bald, French Canadian, lanky cartoon kid does on a regular basis. Even if you don't let them watch it, see if your kids start to exhibit some strangely immature behavior after returning home from school or play dates. If they do, hunt down their friend's parents and shake them out like Home Simpson does to Bart.
One of the definitions of the word disease, according to my handy Dictionary.com iPhone app, is "decomposition of a material under special circumstances." In this case, the material being decomposed is my kid's ability to behave like a somewhat normal 2-year old and 4-year old, while the special circumstances is being exposed to the show Caillou or their friends who watch it too.
Now, I know what you are going to say: "Hey, smart guy! Stop letting them watch the show." While that's all fine and well, the funny thing about diseases is that they generally don't have a single access point of infection. I know some kids who watch little to no TV, and when they have come in contact with my kids, they have suddenly begun to show signs of Caillou-phesema. Yep, it's just like second hand smoke, people.
Perhaps it is because it is French Canadian. No, that doesn't make it inherently bad, but what may be good about it in French may be lost in translation. I wouldn't know. I have never seen the Canadian French version, nor is my french better than a preschool pet goldfish. I also have never been to some of the more Frenchy cities of Canada. Perhaps their children are very whiny. I'm not judging. I'm just theorizing.
It's not that Caillou is grossly worse than other children's programming on PBS. You certainly have your standouts, such as: Sesame Street, Martha Speaks and Arthur. Then you have some grey area programming: Curious George (I like this show, I do, but you have to admit that all the babbling George does can't be helpful to kids who are learning to talk), Word World and Super Why (though the fact that everything is such a "big" problem in that show drives me a little crazy; not being able to build a table is not a "big" problem at 3 or 43 or for a talking pig for that matter). And then you have your trash: Cat in The Hat (decent books, but the show, c'mon! That Cat kidnaps the same kids everyday and the parents never blink an eye), Word Girl (sorry, while I like the vocabulary lessons in here, there are too many gun-like weapons...I'm no bleeding heart, but with 2 boys, I don't need help trying to fuel their interest in guns) and then of course, the devil himself, Barney.
While I can take the boy's graham crackers away that they "turn into" guns, I can't take away the fact that they whine when we accidentally bump into them and they fall down. My four year old, The Little Man as he is known here, has gone into full fetal position, "don't touch me" mode for 5-10 minutes before over such things. Then you watch the episode of Caillou, where one of his friends steps on his toe by accident, and he has a hissy fit for the majority of the rest of the episode until he does something to one of his friends on accident and sees what he did wrong. But that doesn't stop his whining for future episodes. No way, this kid's a pro.
Now I understand that kids are going to whine. They are testing boundaries, adjusting to new emotions and sometimes simply having a bad day. However, they certainly don't need cues and/or tips as to when to do it or how to do it more effectively. My 2 year old, known affectionately as Taz or The Monkey, has already picked up on what The Little Man does and has some of the biggest pouts and fits I have ever seen: crossed arms, head dropped, bottom lip way out and he even mumbles his frustrations of which all I can decipher now usually starts with "Dada..."
So it was just the other day, at a stay at home dad meet up, that I heard a fellow SAHD talk about how awful Caillou is and how much he despises the program as well. I have also read on Facebook, other parents that I know, posting about how awful the show is to them. On skin level, the show is fine, certainly appears harmless enough with bright colors and simple story lines. But when you did deeper, it is an absolutely awful, bordering on abysmal, program. I'm not sure why parents have not revolted against it, maybe we should?
Perhaps, the Canadians are trying to turn us into a bunch of whiners via our children's programming (which would be brilliant), though I know there are countries out there that already feel that way about us. Or maybe I, and a few other people I have spoken with, are blowing this all out of proportion. Maybe you have read some of my other posts, do I sound like the type of guy to blow things out of proportion? Don't answer that.
photo/image credit: http://www.caillou.cc/caillou-images/caillou-logo/caillou-logo.html