Friday, October 7, 2011

When Toddler TV Attacks!

I think we can all agree that toddler television is generally intolerable.... although some shows are clearly more irritating than others. We endured a particularly rough patch when our 4-year-old son Evan was younger and had an all-consuming love affair with Elmo.

His constant obsession with the furry red guy really pushed the limits of our endurance for tolerating high-pitched, squeaky creatures that talk in the third person, and every time we'd hear Elmo exclaim, "Oh yay!" we'd have to steel ourselves against the urge to stick sharp objects in our ears.

At some point we have most likely owned every Elmo video that was ever made. These videos are obnoxious at varying levels; one of the worst is "Elmo's Potty Time," which features horrendously catchy tunes exalting the joys of peeing and pooping.  In the trenches of potty training, these songs swirled around and around in my head like an excremental carousel featuring crapping mules and pissing stallions.

Others, like "Elmo Being Green" are more tolerable, as "Being Green" features Paul Rudd repeatedly making an ass out of himself while dressed in a giant round Earth costume.

 You've got to admit it—that's entertaining.

But regardless, they are all pretty dreadful. 

So you can imagine my excitement when Evan was finally old enough to sit through a full-length movie, and we were able to enjoy Pixar's movie Cars.  And enjoy it we did—about five hundred times in a row.  Within a month we could recite the whole damn movie from beginning to end, and we had accumulated enough Cars paraphernalia to open our own themed gift shop.

We then moved on to Toy Story and Ratatouille, and of course the many incarnations of Thomas the Tank Engine. It didn't take us long to learn that Evan's love affairs with movies followed a pattern: if he saw a movie he liked, that movie would completely consume his psyche for the next few weeks.

There would be movie quotes made at the dinner table, drawings of his favorite scenes lovingly taped to his walls, and requests filed for any merchandise that might feature his favorite characters (we dropped a couple hundred bucks on a Thomas the Tank Engine toddler bed when Evan was in his Thomas phase).  

And, of course, he would ask to watch the object of his affection nearly every day during this honeymoon period, which pretty much meant we were stuck buying every movie he became fixated on.

Unfortunately, once the novelty of each new film wore off, Evan would quickly move on to something else and dump his previous favorite like a jilted lover. He barely had the attention span of George Clooney in a room full of models, and we began accumulating movies faster than bargain-shoppers at a liquidating Blockbuster store.

You'd think we'd catch on and just say, "No more movies—you have enough."  But nope... we're kind of suckers that way.

So we began developing a problem. Our movie storage bins were literally overflowing, vomiting DVDs of Thomas and Elmo and Buzz Lightyear and Big Bird all over our family room floor, where the cases were getting stomped on and the contents damaged.  This also caused a significant safety hazard, as occasionally an unwitting family member would slip on a DVD case and go crashing into the nearest piece of furniture (this was usually me). 

Something had to be done.

And that's when we discovered Netflix 
(insert angelic choir of oohs and aaahs here).

Netflix provided my son with a veritable smorgasbord of shows and movies—he could watch anything from Care Bears to Diego to Spiderman to *ugh* Power Rangers.  He loved this new variety, and since he was able to navigate Netflix by himself, we were spared the endless drudgery of searching through multitudes of mixed-up DVD cases to find the exact movie he was jonesing for at the moment.

It was freaking great.  ....

Until it wasn't. 

Did you know there are no parental controls on Netflix?  I once caught Evan pulling up an episode of South Park while my oblivious parents smiled and sat down with him to watch what they thought was a harmless kids' show!

I also caught Evan watching the original Batman once... the one with Jack Nicholson.  I put a stop to that right away... the last thing I needed was my son running around shouting the Joker's famous quote, "This town needs an enema!"

Basically, once Netflix came on the scene, it became a lot more difficult to police what Evan was being exposed to—especially since a lot of the stuff on Netflix is obscure made-for-tv shlock that we've never even heard of, so we had no way of really knowing what was appropriate. 

Well, the other night Evan happened upon an adorable looking movie called "Impy's Wonderland."  It was rated TV-Y and described itself as a child-friendly film about the last dinosaur on earth, who lives happily on a little island with his animal friends until he gets lured away by a trickster who promises him fame and fortune. 

Cute, right?

I sat down and told Evan we could try watching it.  

Well, the beginning was just charming.  The characters were adorable.  There wasn't a shred of violence, no one called anyone else an idiot or told each other they were stupid, and the movie actually seemed to have a decent plot.  

I hunkered down on the sofa with Evan and relaxed into watching what I thought was going to be a really nice family film—one that wouldn't lead him into a "What the heck?" streak, cause him to yell "Step off, MAN" at his daddy, or inspire him to randomly shout exclamations like "Freaking swine!"...(which, by the way, has become my personal favorite of all his inappropriate outbursts—both for its shock value and its mysterious origin.)

So all was going swimmingly; we were enjoying our movie and snuggling together on the sofa, and I was thrilled to have found something that was both age-appropriate and enjoyable (a rare combination).

As expected, about halfway through the film Impy was lured from his island by a trickster who promised the baby dinosaur fame and fortune.  Surprisingly, I was pleased to see that even the villain wasn't at all offensive (not even a shred of questionable language)!

So you can imagine my surprise when Impy's daydream of stardom began and the movie took a startling turn from wholesome to horrifying.  I've included the segment below—believe me, you'll want to watch it.  Aside from its obvious shock value, I've added some captions so you can really experience what was going through my mind while I was viewing it with my kids.

The scene begins with Impy being shown around the amusement park, and, well.... you'll see where it goes from there.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, click here

Eventually the scene mercifully ended, and I just sat there with my mouth hanging open.  I was beside myself and completely unsure of what to do. I tried the "pretend it never happened" approach and stayed as quiet as possible, hoping Evan wouldn't remember much about the offending scene.

But as luck would have it, Impy's Wonderland became not only Evan's newest favorite film, but it also inspired him to repeatedly sing various interpretations of Impy's performance (which, for those of you who didn't watch the video, was a horrible rendition of "Sex Bomb.")

Obviously Evan doesn't understand the real lyrics, but that didn't stop him from inventing his own.  So for the past week we've watched Evan go back and forth between shaking his bum and singing "Six butts, six butts, you've got six butts," and jumping around shouting "Sick bum, sick bum, you're a sick bum."  Oh, and the third variation: "Six balls, six balls, you've got six balls!"  

As horrible as these interpretations are, Evan actually has a decent sense of pitch, and thus most people can figure out exactly what song he's trying to sing.  Sigh. 

The toddler television army had launched a subversive surprise attack, and we were woefully unprepared.

Score: Toddler TV-1   Parents-0 

I'm not sure I have the stamina for a rematch.  

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  1. Ok, so here I was having fun reading about MY life with my children; except for them it was Dora and Deigo (and mind you those cartoons can't speak proper Spanish to save their lives--drove me nuts) and then you moved into Netflix; which I again can completely relate to. I"m SO irritated with them right now for their poor parental control system. You CAN block mature content, but hte filter is poor. It will also blog all National geographic, BBC, classics, etc. AND it still let R rated movies through. We had the parental block on; and our boys still found "Happy Tree Friends"...MORBID, Gruesome and Vulgar! Was NOT a happy Momma!

    So here I am thinking, yeah, she's still explaining my life...

    And then I watch that video. HOLY CRAP! I about fell out of my chair! What in the world were those producers THINKING! I loved your cartoon dialogue; it definitely fit everything I was thinking as i watched it. WOW> I'm just ....WOW! I guess that is one show my kids will NOT be finding in the Netflix queue.

    Hmm..Not sure how a Parent is suppose to win after that one.

    Definitely a Great Post! I enjoyed it; even though appalled as I was. lol.

  2. Oh dear! My little one found a video on youtube of one of her favorite songs, "Little bunny Foo Foo." yeah. There was cartoon animated BLOOD when he bopped the field mice on their heads. Took weeks to recover from that one.

    Beware, the storm is coming... My kids like Lady Gaga.


  3. Okay, I thought it was going to be something disgusting like burping and farting. But it was even worse!! How have we come to a point as a society where we are singing about "sex bombs" to toddlers?? WTH???
    Great post, Jenn. As usual you made me laugh. Thank goodness you have a sense of humor about these things because it provides your readers with some great entertainment.

  4. Oh no, the video is having technical difficulties. I really want to see it now! I'll come back later today.

    By the way, my sister has quite the little character at home too, and so we started a page on our blog called, "The Little Comedy Club" to collect all of the funny kid comments out there. Feel free to add some of your son's in the comments. He is a crack up;)

  5. You are a great writer, this post had me going from start to finish. The video--OMG! That truly is insane. I don't know WHAT the Hollywood people are thinking. Do they HAVE kids? Must be young 20 somethings who have no clue. Really, that is just awful. Your comments in there were perfect!

  6. what in hootersville was that?!?!? sex bomb!? seriously? and that "chastity belt" at the end of the clip was a real nice touch...I think I would've much preferred a rendition of "Brick House" or "Like a Virgin"...hmmm maybe Disney will come up with something!

  7. Oh boy, can I sympathize with you about Elmo's potty time. We have the accompanying know, the one with all the bells and whistles. I'm sure some toymaker is out there laughing his ass off about how crazy he's driving parents with these toys and shows that Just. Won't. Stop. So far, Netflix has been good for us, but that's because my kid can't figure out the remote on his own yet. Pretty soon, once he's mastered what I can't even figure out, we'll have a problem just like you, I'm sure.

  8. It worked! Um, yikes...what in the world are those people thinking?!! They must not have any kids.

  9. Love your blog!! Stopping by from FNF Blog Hop. I am a new follower via GFC!! Would love for you to stop by my blog and follow if you'd like!! :)

    Jessica Rose - Beauty and The Bookaholic

  10. Thank God I don't have to ever watch Barney again. That was my daughter's favorite. My son's was TelleTubbies. Don't know if I spelled that right but he was Po for Halloween one year. I can't believe that video - I'm still chuckling about it - imagining you sitting there with your mouth open hahahaha.

  11. I found you on the Sunday Funday Blog hop and subscribed via GFC would love if you could stop by and follow me as well!

  12. *gasping for breath laughing* O.M.G. that is so awful but soo hilarious. I can just imagine the horror you must have felt. But I have to admit I'd get a kick out of hearing his rendition.

    I feel your pain with the toddler tv thing. I've had to convince Mr.D to stop watching Family Guy South Park and American Dad around the kids. They are little sponges.

  13. hi im a new follower from the blog hop
    Very nice blog and good to meet you
    please come visit me anytime

  14. Hello I'm following you from Not so Moody blog hop. I would love if you could check out my blog. I love the stories from you.

  15. My daughter's favorite was The Electric Company - did I just date both of us? lol At least back then, you could tell good from bad. Love your blog and I am visiting for a while. I am a new follower and thanks for the follow on my blog. Donna

    My Life. One Story at a Time.

  16. Hahahaha! I once read that whenever your child hear something they shouldn't you should quickly should out some random phrase so they pay attention to the phrase and not the things. Our phrase is, "Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!" Yes, my kids think I'm crazy.
    Netflix actually does have parental controls you can get to through your online profile. But they don't work very well. They get rid of anything without a rating. And I'm guessing Impy would make it through. Thank for the heads up!

  17. LOL! You, my friend, are one funny Beotch! I Love You! Netflix is a freakin lifesaver! Oh, and I have good news for you -- there are parental controls. Click on Your Account & Help in the upper right-hand corner and scroll down to Preferences and then listed right under that is parental controls.

    We had the "pleasure" of enduring many many hours of Barney! Ugghh! We dodged the Elmo bullet though. However, Barney isn't much better. I just don't get Thomas the Train. That cartoon (is it even really considered a cartoon??) is so boring I want to put a bullet in my head! I don't understand how it has such a cult like following of children.

  18. Holy crap! I thought the same thing that Rachel Joy wrote! Chasity belt completely comes to mine especially after THAT song bahahaha

  19. Our horror story happened with horrifying previews for a mild movie in a theater and Cars2 and all of it's violence. Now we use before we watch anything. It is nice that they have an app too!

  20. oh my goodness, that was NOT at all what i expected when i clicked play. can't believe they used the word SEX in a kids' movie.. yikes. shrek had some innuendo but that's all it was, innuendo. kids don't get what "compensating for something means" lol. our latest tv disaster - or rather, movie disaster - was finding nemo. lots of scary scenes which prompted me to look into the disney movies in which parents get killed. turned out there are a lot (see my post: disney hates parents) or else one or both parents are absent. it's so hard to find REAL kid-friendly programs/movies. would love to see a list of stuff that is clean, not going to give my kids ADHD (read the sponge bob article recently) or nightmare-inducing. anyways, LOVED your post. can't wait to read more.

    Karen - following from The Naked Truth About Parenting

  21. I had the Elmo Potty Time book. I hated it. The boys still love reading it though. I think it's because you push the button and it's a toilet flushing. They're boys, enough said. My nemesis is Caillou. Why is he 4 and bald??? And why do his parents let him whine like they do? Grrrrr, he makes me angry just bitching about him!
    Anywho, I just wanted to let you know that I think you're great and you make me laugh so I passed along the Versatile Blogger Award to you! Come see!

  22. Great post as always, Jenn! Stopping by from voiceBoks Members to Remember. Thanks again for all that you did w/ the StumbleUpon event. :)

  23. ROFL, I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter, and Netflix, so I totally understand your plight. Oh and the "Freaking Swine" part totally made me literally laugh out loud
    that's just awesome :D :D :D

  24. that was hilarious. I don'tknow what I was expecting but it wasn't to have such a good laugh. Love your blog

    From vB

  25. Love this!! New follower from the hop if you want to join me too!! :-)

  26. Are you kidding me? These people must be dumb for singing this kind of song for little kids. It's no way age appropriate.
    Thanks for linking up to Get Connected Tuesday Blog Hop. Have a fabulous week.

  27. jenn!!! hahahahahahahahahahahaha ok, so the other night i was reading this post via my cell phone. i was of course, cracking up as usual. my phone was dying and i knew i wouldn't have time to leave the comment i wanted. the next morning i went downstairs...steve and i were having a cup of coffee and he asked if i wanted to watch something on netflix. which then made me tell him your story of impy. he quickly began looking for the movie!! we watched a few clips before (steve was seriously into the movie, no lie lol) and "the part" comes on. we were cracking up!!!!! steve let out a few swear words and i was crying for laughing so hard. i just can't imagine being in that position. and i pictured you sitting there like "what in the world!???!!!"
    my husband said he would love to meet the producers of that. when i told him evan was saying "six balls, six balls" he lost it.
    thank you for the laughs and smiles, always! <3

  28. There is something about Paul Rudd that just cracks me up every time I see him!

  29. WOW!!! Glad my kids never saw that movie... I'll be watching our netflix selections a bit more carefully now.

    My daughter learned to flirt from watching Minnie Mouse. Really!!!! Yikes!!!! She batted her eyes at fans in the stands at high school football games to try to get them to share their peanuts. UGH!

    There is no such thing as Toddler TV!!!

  30. Hi I popped over from Busy Mom's Tops Totally Tuesday blog hop and joined your blog. I enjoyed reading your post. I liked the elmos potty training comment and totally agree that it is an awful DVD after watching it with my children who were bought it as a gift from my Mum. Fortunately neither of my children took to the DVD!
    It's a good story to look back on. Emma-The Good Parent Guide :)

  31. Hahah! Oh, I think every mom here can relate.

    I love sesame street, but I HATE Yo Gabba Gabba. It's stupid, the songs arent' catchy and whoever made it was smoking something horrible and drinking and probably doing any number of other serious drugs as well. Ick. I want to wretch at the thought of it. But my kids love it....I dont' let them watch it a million times, but occasionally, we'll rent a video.

    Karen- that's cute that your daughter learned to flirt from Minnie! It's way better than, say, Katy Perry. LOL.

  32. WTH?! is right. Sex Bomb?! never saw that coming. sheesh!

  33. Hi, Visiting from the Hump Hop. Following you and liked you. Hope you follow back.

  34. OH NO. My daughter is only 10 months old. We have AAALLLLL of this to look forward to. *sigh*

    Thanks for dropping by Happy Hour, returning the follow!


  35. great post, lol
    new follower,

  36. Crazy what is out there!
    Would love a follow back! Coming from the blog hop!

  37. You poor thing! I'd be traumatized! I really have enjoyed your posts that I have read so far!

    New GFC, twitter and facebook follower from the hop!

    Check us out if you get a chance! :)

  38. I am following you from the blog hop, you have a great site. Would you like to follow me back?
    thank you :)

  39. That was ridiculous... I have teenagers and I'm not sure I'd let them watch it. LOL! New Follower from the Blog Hop.

  40. Found you thru Welcome Wednesday!
    Great blog!

  41. Just found your website because you commented on mine. As someone commented earlier, I'm gasping for breath laughing. You're a great writer!! Oh Gosh - it never ends. There's a singer named Nicki Minaj, pretty much a girl rapper, but music itself is pretty good. Some of lyrics are AWFUL and my teenage girls know EVERY word. It says, "You gimme that look, that look, and my panties come off." What's the world coming to? Ms Minaj was on Ellen Degeneres this morning with two 6 yr olds who were enamored with her. One little girl was a consummate showman (showgirl?) she was strutting and rapping like you've never seen! She was rapping so fast, I couldn't understand if it was an ugly part. I know she sang the part where it said, "You're a hell of a guy." It was hilarious, but Gawd, where do you go from there? I don't usually subscribe by email, but you've hooked me. I will!!!!

  42. Damn! That is funny, wish I knew how to do that caption stuff, did it take like hours? THis is funny stuff. Brings back some fowl memories.

    The Cranky Old Man

  43. thanks for linking up at the 99% exposure blog hop. already following on GFC so am following on twitter.

  44. Just found you from the comment you left at "Misadventures of a Chunky Goddess." I'm only an aunt.. Not a mom yet... I never knew that something that's supposed to be family friendly could be so offensive.

    I've read of few of your other posts and I'm going to have to follow you. You're just too funny to resist!

  45. Bahahahahaaaaaa! OMG!

    Sex bomb? Ugh....


  46. Haha sick bum! Well at least he's not actually saying it and doesn't understand it. I'm really surprised they would choose a song like that for a CHILDRENS movie!!

    Here from Thirsty for Comments Thursday!

  47. That's too funny! I had no idea that there were no parental controls on Netflix.

  48. Ok..I will have to come back later and watch the video with sound since I'm at work right now trying to appear as though I'm actually working.

    I can relate to your pain though, of these mini-obsessions with movie and certain characters and what-not. The whole time reading about who you've had to endure, all I could think was, "she's sooooo lucky it isn't Barney". Toy Story wasn't that bad but then when he was older (like around 8 or so) it was The Grinch with Jim Carrey. I swear, that movie comes on and I will leave the room. Why? Because around Xmas, he still watches it non-stop and he's 15 it's been 9 years of it. Ugh.

  49. And I just thought Barney was bad. I do have to admit to letting my kids listen to all kinds of music that's probably not appropriate for them. When the word sex is in the Lazy Song - I just cringe while listening to them sing along.

  50. my brother is also 4 years old. I'm in doubt many times because I'm not sure which cartoons are appropriate or for which ones he is old enough.

  51. Some cartoons are OK. But our children are sponges. My son picks up the most random things from cartoons and sometimes I have to rewatch things to see where he got it from

  52. Haha, love the post! Sounds like what im going through with my 2 yr old son when he trys to repeat things not always coming out "clear" :)

    Newest follower via GFC from the Blog Hope & Hope you'll follow too!

  53. hahaha! Hey, I've awarded you with an award!

  54. Hi, hopping by from the Lots of Lovin’ Weekend Blog Hop. I am your newest GFC follower. I hope that you can stop by and follow me too!! Thanks, Erin

  55. Hi Jenn,
    It is so good to meet people like you.I am sorry that you found some problems with my GFC...I hope now it will work.Thank you so much for stopping by on my blog and writing such a kind post for me.

    I was going through your this post and must say that although it is a funny post,,, but your writing is just superb.You can actually write a book on mommies... for all those mommies who share same experience as you do. ;) Give it a try.

    I would love to follow you back and hope to have a gala time being your blog friend...

    Reporting back from Exposure 99% Weekday Blog Hop

    <3 Apurva ^_^

  56. Oh my....I mean, oh my. How the hell does that happen? Even so - you made a follower out of me!

    Thanks for stopping by my little blog and such a nice comment.

  57. WOW! That's all I can say! I'm glad for the warning! LOL!

  58. New follower I would love a follow back.


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