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Friday, March 19, 2010

This Midwestern Mom (GUEST REVIEWER KRISTIN ENKVETCHAKUL)



Many studies have been done on the supposedly harmful effects of TV on kids. Well, I’ve been conducting my own study on the damage over-exposure of kid TV does to the moms. It’s not pretty. I first became aware of this phenomenon last year, when I had put the kids to bed and decided to watch one of the Christian Bale Batman movies. At some point I realized I was having a little too much fun watching Batman beat the crap out of the bad guys. It became even more apparent when caught myself nearly yelling out loud, “Hit him again!” And so was born my hypothesis: Even the gentlest of moms can only take so much pervasively sing-songy kid TV oozing in happiness and cooperation in conjunction with their own tireless loving and nurturing efforts towards their kids. There’s no good way to say it: Eventually, we’re going to snap.

How can this mommy whack-out be averted, you ask? I have developed a coping technique, which I call, “Mock the shows like a third grader mocks another kid’s glasses.” I’m not saying it’s mature or healthy, but at this point, whatever it takes to help Momma hold it together.

The first show I considered in my study was Scooby-Doo. Granted, Scooby-Doo is a timeless and admittedly well-done show. But try watching hours of it over the winter and eventually you too will wish the villain would have gotten away with it in spite of those meddling kids for a change of pace. There’s a formula to the show, and it gets tedious, despite the puns and great voice actors. The gang stumbles into a mystery, they meet the villain who is disguised as a monster of some sort, there is a big chase set to music, the gang regroups, finds clues, sets a trap that doesn’t work the way it is meant to but somehow they catch the villain anyway, and finally, they unmask the villain. This leads us to the piercing question: Given the hundreds of sinister elements they have encountered, with certainly more in store for the future, why hasn’t the gang started packing? As in, some serious heat.

After all, considering Scooby and Shaggy can whip out a costume that instantly transforms Scooby into a buxom blond mermaid with big red lips, it seems like they could easily carry some hardware on them too.

It would add a layer of suspense. When they are confronted by the monster, instead of yelling, “Run!” Fred would yell, “Shaggy, break out the .45 & take down this freak!”

“Zoinks! Like, that monster is huge! Lock and load the belt-fed, Scoob!” Shaggy would scream.

“Rut Roh!” Scooby would say when Fred’s semi-auto jammed.

Of course, the advent of weaponry would probably mean the gang would have to confine their mystery solving operations to Texas, where “Mister, he had it coming,” is still considered a viable legal defense, at least in some counties. But it could also be an opportunity to reinvent the show’s formula. The show could adopt a Law and Order-esque format, where the gang blazes away at the villain in the first half of the show, and then defends their actions in courtroom proceedings in the second half. Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law could be their regularly appearing counsel.

The next show used for my study was Dora. As you may know, Dora is continually stalked by Swiper the Fox. It seems like she should have filed a restraining order against that sneaky fox by now. Let’s see him swipe stuff from 50 yards away! If not a restraining order, then it seems like she should carry pepper spray. Or better yet she could become an empowering symbol to young girls by taking Tai-Kwon-Do and round-housing that pilfering vermin into the next episode. SOMETHING, so she’s not at the mercy of saying “Swiper no Swiping” three times before he reaches her. I’m surprised she hasn’t cracked under the pressure of knowing he’s lurking somewhere nearby and doesn’t mumble “Swiper no swiping” constantly in a nervous stupor.

Moving on to superheroes, how about this: If Lex Luthor is so smart and wealthy, why doesn’t he have underwear made out of kryptonite for every day of the week? Superman would be like, “Oh no! There must… be… kryptonite…. somewhere…nearby…” And Luthor would reply, “Oh yes, Superman, it’s as close as my monogrammed Tuesday undies.”

Speaking of superheroes, after watching so many episodes of the world facing utter destruction, I can’t help but worry that somewhere deep inside a fake mountain, in a rogue nation, is a secret lab where scientists are reviewing countless hours of superhero episodes and making notes on the catastrophic possibilities. They would be compiling lists of things like, “melt polar ice caps”, “change course of comet to impact Earth”, and “make a machine capable of turning all human life, except our great leader, into goldfish”. Meanwhile in another room, another group of researchers would be brainstorming the obstacles to world destruction: “Statistical probability of failure reaches it’s highest point 3 minutes before it’s too late.” Let’s just hope that Amazon refuses to fulfill any superhero DVD orders that would ship to: c/o World Destruction Dept.

Yes, it’s a sad state of the maternal mind, but I think it’s the only way to survive this emotionally demanding era of constantly providing the perfect, psychologically supportive environment for our kids. You can’t just beat them and toss them in a closet nowadays like they used to. Now it’s time-outs, second chances, and redirecting their behavior in a healthy, constructive, and non-damaging way. In other words, it’s exhausting. If a little internal mockery helps a mom achieve this without going outwardly insane, then so be it.

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